VIP Culture: Delhi Govt gets HC notice seeking reply on allocating beds to COVID patients
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has issued a notice to the Delhi Government seeking its response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) alleging the existence of "VIP Culture" in Delhi for allocating beds to Covid-19 patients.
The division bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha sought to know the government's stand regarding the matter within May 21.
The petitioner, who works in the hospitality industry, filed the PIL against "VIP Culture" before the High Court on Monday and sought a centralized and transparent system to help COVID-19 patients locate a bed.
Pointing towards the present situation of a health emergency, where demand for beds is more than its supply, the petitioner submitted, "there should be some mechanism to ensure that allocation of beds to COVID-19 patients in the hospitals across the city is not arbitrary and unreasonable", adding that allocation of beds cannot be unregulated.
Abolition of VIP Culture has been a long-standing demand for doctors across the country as well. The medical Dialogues team had been reporting about the same. Back in 2019, even the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had directed the Health Department to do away with the private rooms for VIPs so that all citizens could get quality healthcare treatment, which included giving equal access to the poor and the rich.
However, the issue turned more severe during the Coronavirus pandemic when the VIPs were given priority while conducting Covid testing or during the treatment process.
Senior advocate Vivek Sood, appearing for the petitioner, told the court that people cannot be jostling outside hospitals for beds and therefore there has to be a system where people on the waitlist can be informed when a bed becomes vacant and then according to their turn on the list it can be allocated to someone, reports PTI.
The court said it agreed that there should be transparency and that people should get the beds on a first-come-first-serve basis, but the situation on the ground was "desperate" owing to an "overwhelming rush" at the hospitals.
As per the latest media report by the First Post, the bench also directed the Centre to file details of all 4,091 beds allegedly provided by it, along with a with break up of regular, ICU, non-ICU, oxygen, and ventilator beds.
Mentioning that the 1200 isolation beds shouldn't be considered as hospital beds the court said, "The steps taken to augment beds for Covid patients should also be listed. We'll take this on Thursday," the court was quoted as saying by First Post.
Senior advocate Rajshekhar Rao, who is assisting the court as amicus curiae in the matter, said that while it may not be feasible to bring under a centralized system the existing number of beds in the hospitals, the new beds which are expected to come in soon may be allocated via a centralized system.
He submitted that the petitioner was seeking replication of the Bombay model where the majority of the beds were taken over by the government and were allocated by it.
The court, thereafter, asked senior advocate Rahul Mehra and additional standing counsel Anuj Aggarwal, appearing for the Delhi government, to look into the issue and file a reply.