A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, SK Kaul and MR Shah questioned the Arvind Kejriwal government over conducting fewer Covid-19 tests and asked, “Why has your testing gone down from 7,000 to 5,000 a day?”
The court also asked the state to ensure nobody is denied testing on technical reasons. “Simplify the procedure, so more and more can test. It is the duty of the State to conduct testing, so more people know their health status,” the court told the Delhi government, according to The Hindu.
The court had taken suo motu cognisance on the treatment being meted out to patients and the handling of bodies, according to PTI.
The court, The Hindu said, referred to media reports on the lack of infrastructure and patients and their family members in Delhi struggling to get themselves admitted. The top court also said that reports indicated increasing numbers of people being infected across India, especially in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Ahmedabad, the report added.
Justice Shah said that there “should be infrastructure, there need to be beds, patients are not being looked after, this is a deplorable state of affairs,” according to The Indian Express.
The Delhi government has come under severe criticism as people are unable to get beds in hospitals. Opposition has alleged “mismanagement” in the capital and the Centre has also slammed Delhi for its low testing level.
There are a total of 36,824 confirmed coronavirus cases — 22,212 active cases and 1,214 deaths — in Delhi, according to data from the Union health ministry.
On Thursday, three BJP-led municipal corporations said that Delhi had over 2,000 deaths, almost double the government’s tally of 1,085. The first reports on the problem with Delhi’s Covid-19 death toll began to appear in early May. The Delhi government has only now set up an audit team to look into the issue, almost a month after the first reports on the discrepancies made headlines.
Delhi Minister Satyendar Jain responded to the MCD claims by saying, “If that is their claim, then let them send us the details, like age, medical history, test reports. Every death count must have corresponding documents to back the death, otherwise they are just figures.”
It also happens that we observe cases wherein the patient was cremated under the Covid-19 protocol, but their reports show negative later on when obtained from the hospitals, he said, according to PTI.
Delhi government responds
The Kejriwal government on Friday said it accepts with utmost respect and sincerity the Supreme Court’s observations and it was trying its best to set up better infrastructure and provide quality healthcare to all Covid-19 patients.
“We accept Supreme Court’s observations with utmost respect and with absolute sincerity. The Delhi government is determined to provide health care for all and to ensure best possible treatment to each COVID-19 patient,” the government said in a statement, according to PTI.
If there are any gaps that still remain and are brought to its notice, the Delhi government will act on them sincerely and immediately, it said.
“This is an extraordinary situation and the Delhi government is trying its best from the very first day to set up better infrastructure and to provide quality healthcare to all Covid-19 patients,” the statement said.
Opposition criticises Delhi government
The opposition BJP and the Congress in Delhi thanked the Supreme Court for “showing the mirror” to the AAP government over its “shortcomings” in dealing with coronavirus.
“I would like to thank the Supreme Court that they took suo motu cognisance regarding the health of the people of Delhi. Being a responsible opposition, the Delhi BJP always conveyed shortcomings of healthcare and suggestions for improvement to the Delhi government but it was given a political colour,” Gupta said, according to PTI.
Delhi Congress president Anil Kumar said the Supreme Court has asked the Delhi government why corona testing has decreased in Delhi, an issue which it has been highlighting for the past few weeks.
LG forms panel
Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal on Friday constituted an expert advisory committee which includes ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava to suggest effective steps to deal with Covid-19.
The LG order said that the committee will advice the Delhi Disaster Management Authority and make “recommendations on different aspects of management of Covid-19”.
(With PTI inputs)