Under which provisions private hospitals requisitioned for Covid treatment: HC asks Maharashtra

The Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court (HC) has directed the Maharashtra government to clarify about the legal provisions under which private hospitals are being used as dedicated coronavirus disease (Covid-19) healthcare facilities.

A two-member division bench, comprising Justices Ravi Deshpande and Pushpa Ganediwala, has also directed the state government to clarify if the latter is willing to appropriately compensate private hospitals following their requisition under Section 65 of the Disaster Management (DM) Act, 2005.

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The bench made the observation while hearing a petition filed by Viveka Super Speciality Hospital and Research Centre, a private healthcare facility, in Nagpur, challenging the validity of two notifications by the state government.

The notifications were issued by the state government on April 30 and May 21 following which an order was also put out by the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) on August 31, directing the petitioner hospital to spare 80℅ of its beds for treatment of Covid-19 patients.

Advocates Kartik Shukul and Abhilash Shriwas, who represented the petitioner hospital, submitted that neither the notifications nor the civic order issued under Section 65 of the DM Act, 2005, were in legal conformity.

They pleaded that the bid to requisition 80% of the hospital beds was void because of the absence of an order.

The bench found merit in the petitioner’s submissions, and asked the divisional revenue commissioner and the NMC commissioner, who were present for the hearing, about the legal provisions under which they had requisitioned private hospitals for the treatment of Covid-19 patients.

However, both the officials were clueless about the court’s query and sought time for a response.

“If orders as contemplated under Section 65 of the DM Act, 2005 or under Section 2 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, which have not been passed to date, it is not understood as to how and under what authority there can be interference in the management of Covid-19 patients in private hospitals, either by the state government or by the empowered officers under the said Acts,” the court said.

It added that if the notifications were issued under these legal provisions, then obligations contained under Section 66 of the DM Act, 2005, regarding the payment of compensation would follow.

The bench will hear the petition next on Thursday (October 15).

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