The Delhi government's decision drew criticism both from the ruling BJP and the Congress (File)
A day after Arvind Kejriwal announced that hospitals run by the Delhi government and some private hospitals will be reserved for residents of the capital amid a surge in coronavirus cases, the Lieutenant Governor has overruled the decision.
Everyone will be treated in Delhi without "discrimination", Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal said in an order on Monday, asserting that treatment "should not be denied to any patient on grounds of being a non-resident".
The Lt Governor's order referred to the Supreme Court saying in various judgments that "Right to Health" is an integral part of "Right to Life" in the constitution. All government and private hospitals and nursing homes have to extend all COVID-19 treatment facilities without any discrimination against residents or non-residents, the order said.
Arvind Kejriwal announced yesterday that the 10,000 beds under the Delhi government would be reserved for residents. Beds under the Central government can be used by all, he said, adding that private hospitals offering special treatment would also be open to all. After the announcement, he also reopened Delhi's border, which, he said, was sealed over the influx of patients from other cities.
The Chief Minister said he had acted on the advice of a five-member committee of doctors that had predicted that by the end of June, Delhi would need 15,000 beds. "They believe that the 9,000 beds that are currently with us will be taken over in three days if we allow people from other states to take admission," Mr Kejriwal said at a virtual press conference.
The decision drew criticism both from the ruling BJP and the Congress.
Speaking to NDTV, Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said: "How can Delhi's beds be reserved for the people of Delhi? How can Mumbai's beds be only for Mumbaikars? How can Kolkata's beds be only for people of Kolkata? There isn't a requirement of passport and visa to come to Delhi. People from all across the country come to the national capital for treatment. There shouldn't be any politics in this. There is a need for sensitivity".
This morning, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram also questioned the move, saying: "Mr Kejriwal says Delhi hospitals are only for Delhiites. Will he please tell us who is a Delhiite? If I live or work in Delhi, am I a Delhiite?"
The former Union Minister said he thought if anyone had enrolled in Jan Arogya Yojana/Aayushman Bharat, they could seek treatment in any enlisted hospital, public or private, anywhere in India. "Did Mr Kejriwal take legal opinion before he made his announcement," questioned Mr Chidambaram.
Mr Kejriwal and AAP had justified the decision in the backdrop of allegations about covid-19 patients or suspected cases being turned away by hospitals and many private hospitals claiming they were full up despite a Delhi government app showing available beds.
Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain said going by the doubling rate in the capital, Delhi would have around 56,000 coronavirus cases in two weeks.