A COVID-19 patient who breathes with the support of an oxygen cylinder arrives at a government hospital, in Lucknow on Tuesday. (ANI Photo)
PRAYAGRAJ: Expressing its strong displeasure over death of Covid patients allegedly due to shortage of medical oxygen in Uttar Pradesh, the Allahabad high court on Tuesday said the authorities responsible for procurement and supply of the gas are committing criminal acts that are "not less than a genocide".
While hearing a suo motu PIL on media reports that Covid patients had died in Lucknow and Meerut due to lack of oxygen, a bench of Justice Siddhartha Varma and Justice Ajit Kumar said: "We are at pain in observing that death of Covid patients just for non-supply of oxygen to the hospitals is a criminal act and not less than a genocide by those who have been entrusted the task to ensure continuous procurement and supply chain of the liquid medical oxygen."
The district magistrates of Lucknow and Meerut are directed to inquire about the deaths in their districts within 48 hours and submit reports on the next hearing, on May 7.
Amid allegations that Covid protocol was not followed during the counting of votes in the panchayat polls in the state, the court also directed state election commission to produce CCTV footage of several counting centres by the next date of hearing. It said in case the SEC itself finds clear violation of Covid protocol in the footage, it should come up with an action plan.
The bench also took notice of the death of a sitting judge of the high court due to Covid-19 and observed, "We have been informed that late Justice V K Srivastava was admitted initially in the morning of 23rd April, 2021 in Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, Lucknow but he was not taken care of till evening and it was only around 7.30 pm when his condition deteriorated that he was placed on ventilator. It was on the same night that he was shifted to Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGIMS), Lucknow, where he was in ICU for five days and ultimately succumbed to the infection."
The HC directed the state counsel to file an affidavit bringing on record the treatment given to late Justice VK Srivastava at RML Hospital and also to explain why he was not taken immediately to SGPGIMS, Lucknow immediately on the morning of April 23.