New Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party government on Friday told Delhi High Court that the policy decision directing 33 big private hospitals to reserve 80 per cent of ICU beds for Covid-19 patients was taken as a stopgap and temporary measure to deal with the surge of coronavirus cases in the capital. It defended its decision and opposed a plea challenging the government’s September 13 order that directed all private hospitals having bed strength of 50 or more to reserve at least 80% of their total ICU bed strength for Covid-19 patients.
In an affidavit filed before Justice Navin Chawla, the AAP government has denied that the decision, which was stayed by the high court on September 22, violates any fundamental right of the citizens of Delhi and termed the petition by “Association of Healthcare Providers” as wholly misplaced and baseless.
The court then granted a week’s time to the association, which earlier sought to quash the September 13 order, to file rejoinder to the government’s affidavit and listed the matter for hearing on November 18.
The government has separately already challenged the single judge’s stay order before a division bench, which has listed it for November 27.
Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, representing the government, said there was a prediction that during the festive season, the Covid-19 cases would go up.
In its affidavit, the government has taken the stand that it is a settled law that courts will ordinarily exercise restraint while dealing with a challenge preferred to a policy decision of the State. Other states like Maharashtra and Odisha have taken similar steps, it added.
“On account of the pandemic graph taking an alarming rise nationwide and also impacting upon the cases in the national capital, the Government of the NCT of Delhi has been adopting a hands-on dynamic approach for the management and mitigation of this disaster,” the affidavit said.
The government said when the emergency meeting was convened on September 12, out of the 33 private hospitals, 25 participated in it and none of them raised any objection to the decision to reserve the ICU beds. The order only covers 33 private hospitals and nursing homes, out of over 1,150 private nursing homes and hospitals across the city, it added.
It said no patient, suffering from a critical illness other than Covid, has objected to the government’s order or complained of having been deprived of medical treatment.