[Fire Safety in COVID hospitals

] “lllWhat is this report in sealed cover? This is not nuclear secret:” Supreme Court pulls up Gujarat govt

“Hospitals have become large industry now based on human distress and we cannot prosper them at the cost of lives. Let such hospitals be closed,” the Court observed.

<img src=”https://gumlet.assettype.com/barandbench%2F2021-07%2F12defd65-3ae8-49c1-b041-2a2fca0b38f6%2F06.jpg?auto=format%2Ccompress&amp;fit=max&amp;w=1200&#8243; alt=”[Fire Safety in COVID hospitals] &quot;What is this report in sealed cover? This is not nuclear secret:&quot; Supreme Court pulls up Gujarat govt”/>

Justice DY Chandrachud

Debayan Roy

Published on : 

19 Jul, 2021 , 7:50 am

The Supreme Court on Monday pulled up the Gujarat government for failing to follow its directions with regard to fire safety norms in hospitals (In Re the proper treatment of COVID-19 patients and dignified handling of dead bodies in the hospitals etc).

Referring to a notification issued by the government effectively stating that hospitals do not have to adhere to the norms till June 2022, the Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah said,

“Once a mandamus is there, it cannot be overridden by an executive notification like this! You now give a carte blanche and say hospitals don’t have to adhere till 2022 and people will continue dying and be burnt…”

The Court also took exception to the fact that a report by a commission on the issue of fire safety in hospitals was filed in a sealed cover.

“What is this report in sealed cover by commission etc? It is not a nuclear secret,” said Justice Chandrachud.

The Court was hearing a suo motu case concerning fire tragedies in COVID-19 hospitals across the country in the wake of two such incidents in Rajkot and Ahmedabad.

By an order dated December 9 last year, the Court had directed the Central government to submit data from all States on fire safety audits carried out in hospitals. On December 18, the Court noted that although different states and union territories have taken measures and conducted inspections, further audits were required to be taken. It further directed,

“In each district, State Government should constitute a committee to carry fire audit of each Covid hospital at least once in a month and inform the deficiency to the management of the hospital and report to the Government for taking follow up action.”

Today, the Court took exception to the fact that a notification was issued exempting the hospitals from carrying out these fire audit till June next year.

Justice Shah said,

“40 hospitals in Gujarat were held liable and they came to High Court. Later, government order was that no action should be taken against hospitals for violation of fire safety. Such an order is a contempt of this court.”

Directing Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to look into the issue, the Court said,

“How can government pass such an order that no action will be taken against hospitals?”

The Court eventually directed Gujarat government to file a comprehensive statement giving details of fire safety audits which were conducted pursuant to the Supreme Court order of December 2020.

“Hospitals have become large industry now based on human distress and we cannot prosper them at the cost of lives. Let such hospitals be closed,” said Justice Chandrachud.

“Let not the impression go that state is shielding such hospitals,” Justice Shah weighed in.

The matter will be heard again after two weeks.

Supreme Court of IndiaFire SafetyGujarat GovernmentCOVID-19 hospitals

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