The police in Lucknow on Wednesday night registered a First Information Report against a private hospital in the city for allegedly spreading “false rumours” over shortage of oxygen and trying to hoard the gas at the facility, The Indian Express reported. The FIR was lodged based on a complaint from the district administration.
Sun Hospital, situated in the city’s Gomti Nagar area, said it would move the Allahabad High Court against the FIR.
The complaint was lodged after the Allahabad High Court on May 3 held that deaths due to shortages of oxygen at hospitals was “not less than genocide”. The court made the observation based on a notice put out by Sun Hospital which asked family members of Covid-19 patients to admitted at the hospital to shift them to some other facility due to shortage of the gas. The FIR mentioned that the notice “created fear and panic among the patients’ families”, Bar and Bench reported.
However, Lucknow district administration alleged that they found eight jumbo cylinders and two B-type cylinders and concentrators were available with the hospital. The FIR has been lodged under sections of the Disaster Management Act and Epidemic Diseases Act and Indian Penal Code Sections 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life).
After the hospital put out the statement on paucity of oxygen, a notice was sent to the facility accusing it of breaching Covid-19 protocols by spreading rumours, according to The Wire. It accused the hospital of trying to hoard oxygen and putting up the notice about shortage on social media so that it could get supply of the gas without an audit. The notice from Lucknow administration mentioned the stock of oxygen it claimed to have found at the hopsital. The notice added that the hospital gave incorrect information on the number of Covid-19 patients admitted as well.
“You told the officials that there are 38 Covid patients admitted in your hospital,” the notice read. “But according to the list provided by you, there were only 25 Covid patients. And you could not also provide any document that any patient may have to be discharged due to oxygen shortage.”
However, Akhilesh Pandey of Sun Hospital has refuted the allegations. “I want the administration to come and talk to caregivers about what happened on May 3,” he said, according to The Indian Express. “I am filing a writ petition in the Allahabad High Court challenging the action.” While Pandey said he was a manager with the hospital, police said he was one of the directors.
Pandey also said that Sub-Divisional Magistrate (Sadar) Praful Tripathi had put pressure on him. “I have a video with the audio of SDM sahib making me write things in return for helping me,” he said. “Now, they have issued a notice to me.”
Dewendra Tiwari, nursing in-charge at the hospital, said that there were indeed 38 patients admitted at the time the facility said it was running short of oxygen, The Wire reported. “They can check our cameras…we did not have even one bed empty at that time,” Pandey said. “How could we even think of black marketing during such a situation when we cannot even provide oxygen to our patients?”