Bombay high court (File photo)
MUMBAI:In a relief to a nursing home in Mahim, the civic chief Iqbal Singh Chahal via video-conferencing on Tuesday informed the Bombay high court said it is withdrawing its order to suspend the hospital licence for a month. There was a complaint received of ‘overcharging’ a patient, at the 30-bed hospital designated as a Covid treatment centre.
A bench of Justices S J Kathawalla and Madhav Jamdar on Tuesday asked an assistant municipal commissioner to explain the suspension order only for overcharging. The suspension order was issued under rule 10 of the Covid regulations under the Epidemic Disease Act.
The bench mentioned that they had read about large hospitals having overcharged and an FIR also being lodged against them, but no suspension action was seen taken in those cases by the BMC. The bench questioned the power of the BMC to suspend the hospital licence under the Maharashtra Covid-19 regulations 2020. The bench also asked whether the BMC has power to revoke licence under the Nursing Home Registration Act.
The nursing home called Family Care Hospital, managed by a company called Scandent Imaging Ltd, had challenged the suspension order. Its counsel Simil Purohit with Dharam Jumani argued that the show notice issued by the BMC on June 30 never gave all details or charges. The hospital said that the notice mentioned alleged overcharging and gave it three days to explain which it did and again a ‘final notice’ on July 3, with 48 hours to explain, but still sans details of the complainant or patient name. The next day the civic officials “orally’’ informed the woman patient’s name.
The hospital said it was “shocked’’ to receive the suspension order dated July 30 citing an alleged social media ‘viral’ video-post regarding overcharging and death of a patient, which the notice had never mentioned.
The nursing home, in its petition, said a day before the suspension order, “local politicians had launched an unrest’’ and that their hand in the civic action “cannot be ruled out.’’
The bench asked the AMC several questions about any enquiry being conducted into the patient who had died. Not satisfied with the response of the AMC, the HC sought the presence of civic chief Chahal himself. “How can you function like this?’’ said the bench to Chahal concerned that proper charges were not mentioned.
Chahal appearing via VC from the BMC headquarters immediately agreed to withdraw the suspension order and the HC granted BMC the liberty to issue a fresh show cause with proper details and to take any decision after a proper hearing.
The nursing home also questioned BMC’s power to suspend the licence under the Epidemic Act.
Advocate Yashodeep Deshmukh said the patient’s brother-in-law wanted to intervene. He said that the family filed complaint with Mahim police station on July 29 against the hospital as after the body was handed to family a covid test turned out negative. The bench expressed sympathy that patient died but said intervention was not warranted. Deshmukh said he wanted to raise awareness in larger public interest and the HC said he may file a PIL to pursue any such larger cause.
On August 7, the HC bench of Justices S C Gupte and Abhay Ahuja had in an urgent order, restrained BMC from taking any coercive steps against the nursing home which was under the suspension order directed to shift out all its admitted patients within 48 hours and stop new admissions.