Taking a serious note of reports that Gujarat’s health machinery has failed to handle the worsening condition of Covid-19 in the state, the Gujarat High Court on Monday slammed the state government and asked it some scathing questions during the hearing of a suo motu PIL.
The HC questioned some policies of the government: Why is Remdesivir injection available in one place? Why can’t people get injections at home? If there are enough beds and oxygen in hospitals? Why is there a line of 40 ambulances outside hospitals? With such questions, the High Court has directed the government to take immediate action. The PIL, titled “Uncontrolled Rise in Covid Control and Serious Management Issues”, will now have a further hearing on 15 April at 11 am.
A bench led by Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Bhargava D. Karia held a hearing on the PIL registered suo motu on Sunday. Advocate General Kamal Trivedi is representing on behalf of the Gujarat government and Chief Secretary of Gujarat Anil Mukim, Additional Secretary of Health Department Dr Jayanti Ravi and Health Commissioner Jayaprakash Shivahare participated in the hearing online. The bench expressed displeasure over the government’s policies in handling Covid-19. The HC questioned the shortage of Remdesivir injections as well as the large number of people gathering in public places.
After the cases came down, the government forgot in February that Covid-19 was there, the Chief Justice said. “You say, but here the situation is different. Tests for normal people take five days, you know? Not knowing what is going on in other states. We want to know what happens in Gujarat.” Advocate General Kamal Trivedi said that some people take the test only to allay their fears. “It’s not fun to get someone tested,” he said.
At one point in the hearing, the government argued that reports in the media were unfounded and irresponsible. Hearing the argument, the bench reacted sharply, saying: “We look at both media reports and the actual situation. On the contrary, the media is now doing responsible journalism. Instead, the government will present an affidavit of any action taken by the 14th and the next hearing is scheduled on the 15th.”
At one stage, the HC Chief Justice had stopped the public prosecutor from comparing Gujarat with other states. He said, “We don’t need to compare any other state. If we are in Gujarat, talk about Gujarat. Though we are so modern, why is this situation? Even today, it takes 4-5 days for a common man to get the result of RT-PCR test. Reports are received by evening if there is a VIP. Why is Remdesivir not available in private hospitals? If there was a long line outside Zydus, why does one agency have all the control?”