The High Court of Karnataka on Tuesday said that the State-level expert committee, set by the State government on the direction of the Supreme Court to monitor COVID-19 hospitals, has not performed the duties assigned to it.
If the committee was not able to perform its duties, then the State government would have to revamp the committee to activate it, the HC made it clear in its order.
“The report of the member-secretary of the committee shows that it has not discharged its duties. It appears that surprise visits to three private hospitals designated for COVID-19 treatment in Bengaluru city were done by the member-secretary alone and none of the other members of the committee inspected the hospitals,” the court observed.
A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Aravind Kumar passed the order on the PIL petitions on issues related to COVID-19 health management.
When recent data shows that number of COVID-19 positive cases are on the rise and multiplying, we expected that expert committee would play a very proactive role, the Bench observed.
Terming as ‘vague’ the report submitted by the committee’s member-secretary, who is also the Director of Health and Family Service, on the facilities provided in private hospitals for COVID-19, the Bench declined to accept the tall claim that no deficiency was found in any of the hospitals.
Referring to the fundamental rights of the people to live a healthy life and live with dignity, the Bench said that it is the duty of the government to make period checks of private hospitals designated for COVID-19 as these hospitals also receive a kind of State funding for patients sent for COVID-19 treatment to these hospitals by the government owing to a shortage of beds in public hospitals. The court also asked the government to come out with a programme to ensure private hospitals treating COVID-19 patients are monitored.
The Bench also directed the government to look into the issue of shortage of supply of oxygen and rise in the price of oxygen, which is crucial for treating COVID-19 patients on ventilator support.
As the report of the government showed that 258 of the 285 urban local bodies (ULBs) have paid full wages but 27 have not paid up-to-date wages to pourakarmikas, the Bench directed it to ensure that full wages were paid to pourakarmikas in the 27 ULBs within 15 days.