The Supreme Court on Monday (November 23, 2020), observed that in the coming months, the pandemic situation is likely to worsen across the country. Hence, States as well as the Center must take adequate steps and be well-equipped to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.
In this light, a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy & MR Shah hearing a Suo Moto Petition "In Re: Proper Treatment of COVID-19 Patients and Dignified Handling of Dead Bodies in the Hospitals, etc"directed the States of Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat & Assam to file status reports with respect to the COVID-19 cases in respective states within two daysdetailing the steps taken, steps intended to be taken, and the help needed from the Center to combat the situation. Earlier, the bench ordered detailed steps for all states on June 19 and July 27 to constitute expert committees and install CCTVs in COVID wards. The Court also observed that the affidavit filed by the Center did not give details of compliance with respect to the directions passed by the bench on June 19, 2020.
Solicitor general Tushar Mehta while expressing his grief said that a matter concerning dignified treatment of bodies should come to be monitored by this Court. "Where have we reached. It’s really unfortunate for humanity that a Constitutional Court has to deal with such a matter," he said. The SG told the Court that the Center had taken steps in the State of Delhi to manage the situation and that Delhi needed to do more as the cases were rising. Justice Shah also rapped the state of Gujarat and wondered how it was allowing political celebrations, weddings at a time when the number of cases are on the peak.
Senior Advocate Sanjay Jain for GNCTD told the bench that "Dedicated slots for cremation of 380 COvid-19 patients and they are attached to hospitals area wise, Great deal of upsurge for ICU 80 percent ICU beds reserved for COVID patients in private hospitals.”
As states and UTs failed to file a compliance affidavit of direction issued by this court in order dated 19 June 2020. While the bench granted two weeks' of time to the States / UTs to file an appropriate compliance affidavit, it also directed that the Union of India may file a detailed affidavit within two weeks giving the details of the various compliance of the directions which were issued by this Court. The bench asked that responses be filed before the next date of hearing fixed for November 27, Friday. The Counsel assured the bench that an affidavit will come on record in this regard.
“It is time to introspect where we are lacking. Keep in mind situation is likely to grow grim in the coming months. The situation is likely to grow grim in the coming months” said by Justice Ashok Bhushan.