Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal on Tuesday said that the Arvind Kejriwal-led government’s order to reserve hospitals in the Capital for the residents, for which he issued a separate order on Monday, was unconstitutional.
“The Delhi government’s order to reserve hospitals for residents only was in violation of constitutional rights,” Baijal told ANI. “A Delhi High Court bench had ruled that the right to equality and right to life also include the right to health. Denial of healthcare to people on the basis of residency would have been a violation of the Constitution. Therefore I felt that it was right for me to change it [the Delhi government’s order] and make healthcare available to all people.”
Baijal also chaired a meeting of the State Disaster Management Authority to discuss the coronavirus situation in the Capital. At the meeting, Baijal also spoke about his order from Monday and asserted the unconstitutionality of the Delhi government order.
“A similar directive earlier issued by the Delhi government to discriminate in providing healthcare facilities to patients based on their residence was struck down by the High Court of Delhi,” a statement from Baijal’s office said, according to Hindustan Times.
On Monday, the lieutenant governor issued an order prohibiting reservation of state-run hospitals, and some private ones, for residents. The Delhi government had on Sunday issued an order stating that these hospitals could only treat official residents, in an effort to ease pressure on the Capital’s health infrastructure amid the coronavirus crisis.
Baijal also directed the Delhi government to test asymptomatic direct and high-risk contacts of confirmed coronavirus patients, saying that not doing so was a violation of the guidelines issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research.
Delhi has reported 29,943 coronavirus cases and 874 deaths so far, according to the Union health ministry. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, however, warned that Delhi would have 5.5 lakh cases by July 31.