The National Human Rights Commission on Wednesday issued notices to the Delhi government and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on a complaint filed by Congress leader Ajay Maken, who alleged that the Arvind Kejriwal-led government was turning coronavirus patients away even though 70% of the hospital beds in the Capital were vacant.

In a statement, the rights body said that Maken’s allegations, which were substantiated by data, highlighted the inappropriate approach of the government towards the citizens amid an escalating health crisis. “This amounts to a serious violation of human rights,” the organisation said. “The data [provided by Maken] indicates that there is an urgent need for taking effective steps immediately by the government agencies.”

In his complaint filed on Tuesday, Maken had alleged that coronavirus patients had to run from one hospital to another to get timely treatment, only to be turned away. Maken told NHRC that the Delhi government had 57,194 beds and that there were a significant number of Centre-run hospitals. He added that only 12% of the beds at Delhi government hospitals, 8% at central government’s institutions and 7% in private hospitals were presently occupied by Covid-19 patients.

Maken’s complaint also said that 70% of the beds in Delhi’s hospitals were lying vacant when they could have been used to save coronavirus patients. “While the residents of Delhi are struggling hard to fetch a bed in times of Corona crises, the Delhi government, despite confirming availability of beds is not providing the same to the patients who need them to save their lives,” NHRC said. “The complainant has insisted that at least 70% of Bed Capacity should be prepared and reserved for COVID patients.”

The rights body, then, directed the Delhi government and the Centre to submit a comprehensive report on the matter within 10 days.

Delhi is struggling with crippling health infrastructure deficiencies as it also battles a spurt in the number of coronavirus cases. Keeping this in mind, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had last week announced his decision to reserve beds at Delhi government’s hospitals only for the Capital’s residents.

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On Monday, however, Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal issued an order prohibiting the reservation of state-run hospitals, and some private ones, for residents. Baijal directed the government and medical authorities in the national Capital to ensure that treatment was not denied to anybody on the grounds that they were not residents of the city. On Tuesday, the lieutenant governor said that Kejriwal’s decision to deny treatment to patients on the basis of citizenship was unconstitutional.

Earlier on Wednesday, Kejriwal said that Baijal’s order will be fully implemented as there was no time for disagreements amid the worsening coronavirus crisis.

Delhi reported 1,501 new coronavirus cases and 48 deaths on Wednesday, according to the government’s daily health bulletin. The Capital’s overall count of cases rose to 32,810 and the toll reached 984. On Tuesday, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia warned that the number of cases in the Capital are expected to reach 5.5 lakh by the end of July.