The bench was hearing a Public Interest Litigation, filed by a resident of Malegaon, alleging inaction on part of the Maharashtra public health department and the local civic body in filling vacancies for doctors and assistant medical staff at the Malegaon civic hospital for years.
The petitioner, Rakesh Bhamare, cited replies to his RTI queries to inform the court that the authorities had failed to sanction and fill such vacancies since 2012.
He also sought that contempt proceedings be initiated against the officials concerned for failing to comply with the court's order not just on the vacancies, but also on a 2016 order of the Bombay HC directing the state to constitute a special committee to inspect and review the condition of municipal hospitals.
Such a committee was to meet every two months and take stock.
However, in a hearing conducted earlier this week, the state submitted a reply informing the court that since its constitution in October 2016, the committee had met only three times.
The bench took strong exception to the above submission.
It summoned Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, and suggested that the state immediately direct some "capable officers" to take stock of the condition of civic-run hospitals and to implement remedial steps.
"We are shocked that despite this court having passed several detailed orders in the past, your officers haven't done anything to implement them," the bench said.
"We understand that in the present case, the Malegaon civic body has expressed its inability to hire staff due to lack of funds.
However, it is the duty of the state to step in and ensure that the hospital has necessary infrastructure and staff," it said.
"Especially, considering that most of the patients who visit civic hospitals belong to the economically weaker section, the state must take immediate steps to fix the problem.
Deploy some capable officers who can bring a change at the ground level," the bench said.
It directed the state and the two local officials to file their respective replies by May 2 this year.
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