The Supreme Court
on Wednesday slammed the Delhi government for threatening coercive action against doctors and healthcare workers who made public the sorry state of affairs in the capital's
and ordered it to forthwith revoke the suspension order against a healthcare worker who had made a video of bodies lying in patient wards of Lok Nayak Hospital.
"You are shooting the messenger. You do not want the truth to come out. You must withdraw the suspension and take back all coercive steps. Doctors, nurses and healthcare workers are your warriors in the fight against Covid-19. They need support. But you are taking coercive action against them. What is happening? The administration must understand that coercing doctors and healthcare staff while not paying them salaries will not help control the
," a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan,
Sanjay Kishan Kaul
and M R Shah said.
The hospital director did not deny bodies were kept in patient wards but blamed it on a contractual healthcare worker who was unwilling to touch them. He said the ward boy had made the video and that disciplinary action has been initiated and a detailed inquiry had been ordered into the incident.
Additional solicitor general Sanjay Jain told the court that the Delhi government had done its best to fight the pandemic and was geared to meet the situation to the best of its capability. "We are doing our best to build capacity. We are not justifying any lapse that might have happened in the past. We are also not admitting that everything is hunky-dory," he said.
The bench said, "It is very unfortunate to know that this (suspension of the ward boy) happened after we issued notice to Delhi government. You must stop threatening doctors, nurses and healthcare workers. You suspended the messenger. You must withdraw the suspension." Jain promised to look into the matter immediately.
Delhi government's affidavit was full of self-praise and the bench asked it to file a better one informing the court about the ground situation. The affidavit filed by Delhi health secretary Padmini Singla, through advocate Chirag Shroff, said, "Delhi took steps even before the magnitude of threat posed by Covid-19 was acknowledged in large parts of the country. Many measures adopted and executed by the government of the national capital were later adopted by other states."
It said there were five dedicated Covid hospitals in Delhi with a bed capacity of 4,400, of which only 1,361 were occupied. It said there was no truth in reports that Covid-19 patients were running from pillar to post to get admitted to hospitals. "There is a hassle-free admission procedure. Doctors and healthcare workers are given PPEs and other equipment. There is proper quarantine facility for all," the affidavit added.
It said against the national average of 4,000 tests per million, Delhi was conducting 14,000 tests per million population. It said daily testing would be increased from 5,000 to 15,000 by June 20. The SC will hear the matter on Friday with a fresh affidavit from the Delhi government.