The Supreme Court on Tuesday rebuked the Gujarat government for its response to the fire at a private hospital treating coronavirus patients in Rajkot last week, saying that “everything is good” according to the government’s counter affidavit, Live Law reported.
Five coronavirus patients had died in the fire on Friday, prompting the Supreme Court to take suo motu cognisance of the incident. The court had directed Gujarat to submit its response by December 1.
The case was heard by Justices MR Shah and Ashok Bhushan. Shah told the Gujarat government that its stand contradicted that of the chief electrical engineer. “We have seen your counter-affidavit,” he said. “As per your counter, everything is good.”
The judge added that no one can suppress the facts related to the incident. “The facts need to come out in the correct fashion,” he said.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the Gujarat government, told the court that a committee headed by a retired High Court judge had been set up to conduct an inquiry into the fire. The court, then, adjourned the hearing till Thursday.
On Monday, the Centre also directed the states and Union territories to step up fire safety measures at hospitals. Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla told the states that they had to take “utmost precaution” to avoid accidents during the crucial phase of India’s fight against the coronavirus crisis.
Meanwhile on Sunday, the police booked five people for the fire at the Uday Shivanand Hospital in Rajkot. The accused included the chairperson and the executive director of Gokul Healthcare, the company which operates the hospital.
The police also found that the hospital has violated several safety norms. The emergency gate of the intensive care unit, which could have been used for rescue operations, was found blocked. The staff was also not trained to handle fire safety equipment.
Before the fire in Rajkot, eight coronavirus patients had died in a blaze at a private Covid-19 designated hospital in Ahmedabad in August.