The coronavirus pandemic is at an all-time rise. Thus, it is not surprising that hospitals are at full capacity, and Corona Virus patients are sometimes admitted into hospitals. However, some hospitals have refused beds to coronavirus patients despite there being beds available in the hospital.
To remedy this injustice, the Kolkata High Court has passed an order on Wednesday i.e. September 16th stating hospitals cannot refuse admission to Covid-19 patients if the hospital has available beds for the same. In the order, the bench has also reiterated that this is “one of the basic tents of medical ethics”.
A division bench of Hon’ble Chief Justice Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan and Hon’ble Justice Arijit Banerjee has also observed that it is the primary and most important duty of a hospital to impart healthcare to the needy. In this regard, the Court will not differentiate between the Government and Private hospitals.
In the PIL filed by the petitioners, two main issuers were raised. The first issue was regarding the disposal of a dead body of a Covid-19 victim. the petition urged the court to rule that such disposal must be made with due care, dignity, and respect. The petition raised another issue that was regarding the admission of Covid-19 patients. This included those patients that were suspected or were detected to be affected by the pandemic.
The court ruled on the first matter in the case of Vineet Ruia v. The Principal Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Govt of W.B. & Ors. The Court ruled on the matter on the very same day i.e. September 16th, 2020, stating that victims of the deadly disease have a right to decent burials as per religion. This right was protected by the fundamental right enshrined in the constitution under Article 21 and 25.
The petitioner’s grievance also covered that due to the lack of a proper database, it was impossible to find out how many available beds are in the State and Private hospitals.
The counsel appearing for the state has denied the existence of any case wherein the Government hospitals have denied admission. They further submitted that the State government’s database comprising of all the information required by the petitioner is easily accessible.
The court gave its final order and stated, “The refusal on the part of a hospital to do so, without a valid reason, e.g. non-availability of beds will amount to a culpable breach of the fundamental duty of a medical institution”
The court also directed the petitioners to bring any discrepancy in this matter to the notice of The West Bengal Health Regulatory Commission constituted under The West Bengal Clinical Establishments (Registration & Regulation) Act, 2010.