High Court Delhi HC directs hospitals to approach Nodal officers

Delhi HC directs hospitals to approach Nodal officers

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New Delhi, Apr 23 (ILNS): The Delhi High Court today directed the hospitals running out of oxygen supplies and needing refilling to first approach the Nodal Officers, before approaching the court.

A Division Bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rekha Palli passed the directions, while hearing the petition filed by two hospitals – Bram Healthcare and Batra Hospital, seeking urgent supply of oxygen, claiming that they are left with only few hours of supplies.

The Bench said that the hospitals, who are running out supplies, shall first approach the Nodal officer appointed by the Delhi government and if the same is not met by him also, the hospitals shall contact Senior Advocate Rahul Mehra and Delhi government Additional Standing Counsel Advocate Satyakam.

“We’ll try and sort things out, instead of becoming a post box,” Senior Advocate Rahul Mehra, appearing for the Delhi government, said.

While passing the order, the court recorded that Mr Udit Prakash, Special Secretary, Department of Health and Family Welfare, GNCTD, is appointed as the Nodal officer for addressing the said concerns of oxygen supply to the hospitals of Delhi.

“Mr Udit has been made aware and is instructed to immediately take steps. We have suggested to Mr Mehra that it is desirable to have more persons working with Mr Udit Prakash and their numbers be circulated,” the Bench said.

While the matter was being heard through video-conferencing, the court was appraised about a virtual control room, which is in place to manage the health crisis in the country due to COVID-19.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, along with Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma and Advocate Monika Arora said, “There is a Control Room of the Centre, which interacts with the Nodal officers of each states. All these officers are Secretary level officers.”

“There is a virtual control room, which has a lot of officers. There is a Whatsapp group (Virtual Control Room), where problems are addressed immediately and solutions are given thereof,” Mr Mehta informed the court.

To these submissions, the court questioned Mr Mehta if an officer from the Railways is part of this Control Room. Mr Mehta responded in affirmity.

However, Advocate Priyadarshi Manish, appearing for Brahm Healthcare, told the Bench that the reality is different. “From 5 am, my cylinder was lying there and the Nodal officer was not responding to the phone call,” he said.

Advocate Rakesh Malhotra, who is also a petitioner, supported the submissions made by Mr Manish by giving example of some other nursing homes.

Adding to the submissions, senior Advocate Siddharth Dave, appearing for Batra Hospital, told the Court, “We have 160 patients in ICU and others in the ward. We approached the Nodal officer yesterday, but nothing happened. We are COVID reserved facility. We require 7-8k L of oxygen. We got 1000 litres yesterday, but it would get over in the next 5-6 hours. We are not a nursing home. We are a COVID dedicated hospital. We don’t have a choice.”

Following these submissions, Mr Mehra, while taking the Court through the allocation plan, suggested the court if Delhi can get oxygen from Dehradun and other nearby plants for 2-3 days.

Agreeing to his submissions, the Court said, “This would make utilisation of tanks more effective. If we have very long distance to cover, each trip is going to take time. Maybe, you have plants in UP.”

SG Mehta too agreed to the point and requested the Delhi goverment to ask its Chief Secretary to speak about the same to the Home Secretary in this regard.

“We have put it to the Solicitor General that the empowered group could look at the possibility of making re-allocation, so that to reduce the distance. Let the Secretary Health, Delhi government examine the entire allocation plan and make a suggestion and place it before the Central government,” the Court recorded in its order.

The matter will now be heard on Monday, along with the pleas of other hospitals and Mr Malhotra’s plea. ILNS/ANB/RJ

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