The Supreme Court will on Tuesday hear a plea by the Delhi government challenging the Delhi High Court order which stayed the government's decision to reserve 80 per cent of ICU beds for Covid-19 patients in private hospitals. A two-judge bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and B.R. Gavai will hear the matter at 10:30 a.m.
The plea filed by the Delhi government said the High Court order has impacted and infringed on the Right to Life of hundreds and thousands of critical COVID-19 patients who now are left to the mercy of private hospitals, who are solely operating with a profit motive, allegedly charging arbitrary and exorbitant medical treatment fees.
The Delhi government has argued that the division bench of the High Court failed to appreciate its order, directed only 33 private nursing homes and hospitals (out of a total of almost 1,170 private nursing homes and hospitals across the NCT of Delhi) to reserve/earmark 80 per cent of their ICU beds.
The government had permitted private hospitals to increase their bed capacity temporarily by 30 per cent, subject to the increased beds being dedicated for COVID-19 patients. "Division Bench of the High Court has failed to appreciate that the effect of the GNCTD order is not in fact, to reserve 80 per cent of ICU beds of all private hospitals and nursing homes in Delhi. The effect is in fact, only limited to the subject hospitals, who have additionally been permitted to increase their ICU bed capacity by 30 per cent," said the Delhi government petition.
Association Of Healthcare Providers through advocate Ashutosh Jha has filed a caveat in the matter. Senior advocate Maninder Singh, representing the association before the High Court, had submitted that the order has been passed without application of mind as despite noting the fact that the majority of the ICU/HDU beds in the private hospitals are fully occupied. Singh added that order directing reservation of 80 per cent of beds in ICU/HDU for Covid patients thereby jeopardising both the health and life of non-Covid patients on the one hand and the effective functioning of healthcare facilities on the other.
The government has argued that the only reason why the private hospitals would not be interested in availing of this opportunity was on account of the fact that COVID-19 patients could only be charged at capped rates fixed by it.
On September 22, a single-judge bench of the Delhi High Court had stayed the September 13 decision of the government. This single bench order has been challenged by the AAP government before a division bench in the High Court. The matter is scheduled for hearing on November 27.