The Supreme Court on Monday criticised the Gujarat government for not following its directions on fire safety norms in hospitals, Bar and Bench reported.

The court objected to a notification by the government effectively stating that hospitals do not have to comply with the fire safety norms till June 2022.

On December 18, the Supreme Court had directed the state governments to form district-level committees to carry out fire audits of Covid-19 hospitals at least once a month. However, the Gujarat government reportedly issued a notification exempting the hospitals from carrying out fire audits till June next year.

The Supreme Court on Monday castigated the government for issuing such a notification.

“Once there is an order by us, it cannot be overridden by an executive notification like this,” Justice DY Chandrachud said, according to NDTV. “You [Gujarat government] now give carte blanche and say hospitals do not have to adhere to the order till 2022 and people will continue to die by burning.”

The court also questioned a commission on fire safety for filing a report in a sealed cover. “It is not a nuclear secret,” Justice Chandrachud said. “Hospitals have become large real estate industries and they survive on human stress. Hospitals in small four rooms must be closed.”

The court directed the Gujarat government to file an affidavit explaining its notification. It has also asked the state to submit an action taken report after the court’s December 18 order on fire safety audits.

On November 27, the Supreme Court took cognisance of a fire at a Covid hospital in Gujarat’s Rajkot city, in which five patients died. The incident had cropped up during the hearing on another suo motu case on the proper treatment of Covid-19 patients and the dignified handling of bodies in hospitals.

Before the fire in Rajkot, eight coronavirus patients had died in a blaze at a private Covid-19 designated hospital in Ahmedabad in August.

Last month, the state government told the Gujarat High Court in an affidavit that in Rajkot, 20 out of 88 designated Covid-19 hospitals do not have a fire no-objection certificate, The Indian Express reported.