The Delhi High Court on Thursday termed the number of Covid-19 cases in the national capital as “alarming” while hearing a plea challenging AAP government’s decision to reserve 80 per cent of ICU beds for coronavirus patients in 33 private hospitals here.
“The numbers, we know, are presently in an alarming state,” said Justice Navin Chawla while listing the next hearing on December 9 for further consideration of the matter.
Meanwhile, Delhi health minister Satyendra Jain said that schools in the national capital will not reopen till the government is convinced about students' safety.
Universities and schools across the country were closed on March 16, when the Centre announced a countrywide classroom shutdown as part of measures to contain the spread of Covid-19. A nationwide lockdown was imposed on March 25.
"There is no plan to reopen schools (in Delhi) as of now. We are hopeful that a vaccine will be available soon. Schools will not be reopened till the time we are convinced that students will be safe," Jain told reporters.
The high court was hearing a plea by 'Association of Healthcare Providers', represented through senior advocate Maninder Singh, to quash the Delhi government’s September 12 order to reserve 80 per cent ICU beds for Covid-19 patients in 33 private hospitals here.
According to the government data, Delhi recorded 99 more deaths and 5,246 Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, taking the infection tally to 5.45 lakh.
During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, representing the Delhi government, said they were reviewing the situation periodically and it was last done by Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) and especially with regard to Delhi by the Union Home Minister.
He said the situation was reviewed on Wednesday night also and it will again be done before the next date of hearing of the case.
The September 12 order of the Delhi government was earlier stayed by the high court on September 22. However, a division of the high court on November 12 vacated the stay order taking into account the change in circumstances since the time the stay order was passed.
The petitioner association had told the high court that the 33 private hospitals are its members and the Delhi government’s order shall be quashed as it was passed in an irrational manner and is ex-facie perverse.
The ASG, however, had contended that the situation of COVID-19 infection in Delhi has become critical recently and the COVID-19 cases are spiralling and it was critical that 80 per cent of ICU/ HDU beds be reserved for COVID-19 patients in the 33 private hospitals.
Delhi High Court On Fine Collection In Cash
While hearing a PIL by advocate Rakesh Malhotra seeking an increase in the Covid-19 testing numbers in the national capital and getting speedy results, the high court said the police and the authorities concerned should avoid collecting fines in cash for violation of Covid-19 norms and the AAP government should create a portal for it.
On the Delhi government's decision to bring down the number of attendees at weddings to 50, the high court asked as to how the rule was being enforced and whether there were any protocols in place to implement it as a lot of weddings are held during this time of the year.
A bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad said that in the present day and time, "cash transactions need to be avoided" and there should be a provision for paying the fines electronically.
It said the government should have a portal for collecting fines, in case it is not there already.
The court also asked the Delhi government as to what it has done with the huge amounts collected as fines and suggested that they be utilised for the purpose of fighting COVID-19.
With regard to Delhi government submission that it has increased RT/PCR test numbers to 40,000 per day, the bench remarked that it came after much pushing and prodding by the court and after loss of a lot of lives.
RT/PCR, or Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction, is a laboratory technique widely used in the diagnosis of genetic diseases and to measure gene expression in research.