HC seeks details on COVID hospitals, Remdesivir in J&K

The High Court has asked the government to furnish within two weeks details with regard to number of hospitals available for treatment of Covid patients in Jammu and Kashmir and the quantity of Remdesivir it has received even as the court directed the government to nominate adequate nodal officers for ensuring supply of oxygen to the patients at home.

While hearing a Public Interest Litigation, the division bench of Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Sanjay Dhar asked the Financial Commissioner, Health and Medical Education to file within two weeks an affidavit giving complete details of the number of government and private hospitals available in J&K for treatment of covid patients, number of beds available, District wise/City wise quantity of Remdesivir allotted and exact quantity of the drug received and used with the corresponding figures of the requirement.

The bench also directed the government to nominate the Nodal officers and publicise their full details with contact number so that the patients or their relatives   may approach them with proper medical prescription for the supply of oxygen.

The Court said once the nodal officers are approached by the patients, they shall take immediate and adequate steps to ensure the supply of oxygen where it was found to be needed without causing any harassment to anyone.

With regard to the availability of infectious diseases’ specialists, the Bench said: “We are not sure as to the availability of infectious diseases’ specialists in the Union Territory or whether such specialist is necessary in the present situation, nonetheless the Financial Commissioner, Health and Medical Education is expected to explore the number of such specialists available throughout the country and the possibility, if any of them is willing to serve the Union Territory, if such service of an expert is genuinely needed”.

Pointing out that the shortage of oxygen, medicines including Remdesivir, doctors or other staff was not born out from details on record, the court said it was not appropriate for it to enter into the arena at this stage. The Court however left it to the Financial Commissioner, Health and Medical Education to come out on affidavit within two weeks with complete details.

With regard to registration and vaccination of lawyers above 45 years, the court asked its Registry to discuss the issue with the Finance Commissioner, Health and Medical Education with the help of Advocate General to get some date fixed for the registration of such advocates. Thereafter, the court said, dates for their vaccination may be notified for carrying out the same at some suitable place in the High Court Campus or Medical College or Hospital within a week.

With regard to vaccination of lawyers between the age group of 18 to 45, the court said they are advised to get themselves registered for vaccination online as per the prescribed procedure. “Once they are registered, they will be provided facility of vaccination in group again on appropriate dates and a suitable place or otherwise they will be given a slot for vaccination on priority at the earliest, if possible, with in a period of two weeks from the date of registration”

The court said in case any family of the lawyer is in need of financial assistance either on account of medical expenditure or due to the death, the family members may approach the Bar Association with an application. “On the application is being forwarded, the Court would speedily consider it and endeavour to provide maximum financial aid out of the welfare fund”.

The court however directed the government to also consider for making some additional budgetary allocation, as the funds available may not be sufficient to meet the requirement.

The court issued these directions while taking cognizance of some applications by Jammu based senior lawyers seeking Supply of oxygen to patients at home, services of infectious disease specialist from other states, removal of the deficiency with regard to availability of ventilators, oxygen, beds and medication including remedisivir and Registration and vaccination of lawyers. These applications were moved in the suo moto Public interest Litigation on Covid 19 proceedings on which the court has initiated in 2020.

The Court said it has taken suo moto action as a process of the Court for protecting life of the citizens by ensuring adequate medical help both in terms of medical advice and life supporting material.

“The Court is conscious of the fact that government is taking due steps for controlling the pandemic and to provide full medical support,” the bench said, adding that still much more was required to be done.

“Since we have already observed that this is not an adversarial litigation, we hope and trust that no one would make any effort to draw any mileage out of it so as to reduce it to a personal interest litigation or a publicity interest litigation and the media would also act cautiously in the best interest of the public and country”.

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