'You're shooting the messenger': SC slams Delhi govt for targeting doctors

The doctors and nurses are soldiers in this war. If we do not treat them properly then how you will win the war... You are filing FIRs against the doctors. You are shooting the messenger, the bench observed
The Supreme Court Wednesday slammed the Delhi government for targeting doctors and healthcare workers by suspending them and lodging FIRs for sharing videos highlighting the real state of city hospitals and said it was shooting the messenger.

The top court had earlier torn into the Delhi government over the sorry state of affairs" for treatment of Covid-19 patients at its hospitals including LNJP and also decreased testing, calling the situation in the national capital "horrendous, horrific and pathetic".

A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, S K Kaul and M R Shah questioned the AAP government as to why the FIR was lodged against a doctor who was employed in a hospital in north Delhi and suspended for sharing the video.

The bench, which had taken suo-motu (on its own) cognisance of the poor treatment facilities for Covid-19 patients and improper handling of bodies, asked the authorities to take back all such punitive steps taken against health workers.

The doctors and nurses are soldiers in this war. If we do not treat them properly then how you will win the war... You are filing FIRs against the doctors. You are shooting the messenger, the bench observed during the hearing held through video-conferencing.

The authorities should stop harassing him, it said, adding that the doctors and nurses are corona warriors and they need to be protected.

The court then asked the Delhi government to file a fresh and better affidavit and "redeem itself" by taking corrective steps and listed the plea for hearing on June 19.

Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, appearing for the Delhi government, told the top court on Wednesday that they are committed to patient care, managing of dead bodies and increasing the number of Covid-19 tests in the national capital.

Jain started his submission by admitting that everything was not hunky-dory and said that after the recent visit of Union Home Minister Amit Shah to LNJP Hospital here, things are improving.

The top court, while referring to the poor management of Covid-19 patients and handling of dead bodies earlier, told the Delhi government to redeem all this which was done earlier.

The bench told the Centre that they must have a policy on discharge of Covid-19 patients in tune with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines.

On June 12, while taking note of the reports of horrific scenes at Delhi's Covid-19 dedicated LNJP hospital where bodies are being stacked next to coronavirus patients, that top court had said that it indicated the sorry state of affairs in government hospitals.

It had directed Chief Secretaries of Delhi, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Gujarat to take "remedial action" ensuring proper management of patients at hospitals.

The court had issued notices to the Centre and the four states observing that apart from Delhi, the situation was grim at the hospitals there as well vis-a-vis treatment of coronavirus patients and handling of the bodies.

On handling of the bodies of Covid-19 victims, the top court said there was no proper adherence to the guidelines of the health ministry and the hospitals are not giving due care and concern to the dead bodies.

The top court had also wondered about the fewer Covid-19 tests being conducted in Delhi and asked the government to ensure that there should be steep increase in the testing both by Government hospitals and private labs as non-testing of the patients is not a solution to the problem.

It had also issued a notice to LNJP hospital and sought its Director's response by June 17 on the poor state of affairs after taking note of the fact that only 870 of its Covid beds, out of 2,000, have been occupied as on June 11 when people are running from one hospital to another to get patients admitted.

The apex court had said it has taken cognizance of the issue on the basis of media reports presenting horrific scenes from LNJP hospital, which is a Covid dedicated hospital...in its programme on June 10, 2020, has shown certain videos which indicate the pathetic condition of the patients admitted in the hospital and the deplorable condition of the wards.

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel