The Kerala High Court has dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed against the inaction of the concerned authorities in the enforcement of their duties for the welfare, good health and well being of the residents of Lakshadweep.
The grievances of the petitioner, Anwar Sadik MI, is that the Rajiv Gandhi Specialty Hospital at Agatti Island is functioning under Public Private Partnership (PPP) Mode from 2011. The first bidder of the hospital under the PPP Mode was Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Ernakulam. On completion of their tenure, the second bid was awarded to the IQRA International Hospital, Kollam and the third bidder was Daya General Hospital, Thrissur. Accordingly, Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) dated April 20th was signed between Daya General Hospital, Thrissur and the Secretary (Health), Union Territory of Lakshadweep, for a period of two years which ended in April 2022.
In fact the issue raised by the petitioner arises after the expiry of the last agreement. According to the petitioner, it has come to his knowledge on making due enquiries that no further process has been carried out to give extension to the existing bidder or for inviting fresh bid to run the hospital under PPP Mode for a stipulated period like the earlier years by the respondents in the writ petition. It is further submitted that respondents are proposing to run the hospital directly by appointing all specialist doctors and other paramedical staff on terminating the PPP mode; however, respondents have not even initiated the recruitment process for appointing specialist doctors and other technical and paramedical staff.
It is also contended that at present, Rajiv Gandhi Specialty Hospital is facing acute shortage of staff and facilities such as specialist doctors and other paramedical and technical hands, staff nurses, etc. As also it is contended that sufficient quantities of life-saving medicines and basic laboratory facilities are not available for the past few months including disposable syringes.
The sum and substance of the contention put forth by the petitioner is that even though the petitioner as well as likeminded residents had approached the respondents and apprised them of the pitiable condition that is prevailing in the Island due to lack of proper medical facilities, especially to meet the requirement of pregnant women and old people, the respondents have not taken any action consequent to which, the petitioner has no other option than to approach this court in order to protect the interests of the public.
While considering the PIL, the Division Bench of Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P. Chaly observed that according to the Administration it is found that there are disruptions in the matter of timely engagement of specialist doctors to attend the medical requirements of the Islanders and on various occasions against all the private agencies, fine was imposed in accordance with terms and conditions of the MoU.
Further, it is noted by the Court from the facts and figures given that huge amounts were being paid to the specialist doctors when compared to the specialists recruited by the Administration for regulating the operations of the hospital in its various Departments.
“Anyhow, it is clearly stated by the Administration that they have not given up the PPP Mode fully and till such time the specialist doctors in all the Departments are recruited wherever required, the PPP Mode would be adopted in order to cope up with the medical demands of the Islanders. It is also clearly stated in the statement that the petitioner could not point out any deficiency specifically in the deployment of nursing and paramedical staff in the hospital and the contentions raised that there are no sufficient nurses and paramedical staff in the hospital in question is a baseless and blunt allegation.”
From the statement, it is also observed by the Court that every step and effort is made to procure medicines through various modalities and as per the annual procurement policy of the Administration.
In the considered opinion of the Bench, it is for the Administration of the Union Territory of Lakshadweep to decide the manner in which the hospital is to be managed and how the doctors and the staff are to be appointed. Earlier, they found that PPP Mode was a feasible one and it was accordingly that in order to cater the needs of the Islanders from 2011 such mode was adopted. However, later the Administration found that the PPP Mode is not a feasible one and accordingly, the Administration has changed its policy and decided to recruit the specialist doctors and other doctors permanently and only to depend on PPP Mode wherever specialist doctors are not available. In our considered opinion, it is a policy decision of the Administration and unless and until any illegality, arbitrariness or perversity in the policy making decision of the Administration is established, a writ court is not expected to interfere with the policy decision and the day-to-day affairs of the Administration.
On assimilating the factual situations pointed out by the rival parties and the pros and cons, the Bench is of the definite opinion that the Administration is taking earnest efforts to provide medical facilities to the Islanders by recruiting specialist doctors and securing services of specialist doctors by resorting to PPP Mode wherever required. It is also the intention of the Administration that all the posts of the specialist doctors are filled up by direct recruitment. The said policy decision is taken by the Administration also taking into account the financial implications and the advantages secured by the Administration by recruiting the specialist doctors which, according to us, is conceptualizing the idea of larger public interest. After all it is for the Lakshadweep administration to decide the manner in which its policies are to be evolved in order to effectively carry out its administration to the maximum advantage of the public after taking into account its financial and other technical and feasible aspects.
“Taking into account the facts and figures and the well settled proposition of law deliberated above, we are of the clear and undoubted opinion that the petitioner has not made out any case of arbitrariness, illegality, discrimination or other legal infirmities in the policy decision of the Lakshadweep Administration justifying our interference exercising the power of judicial discretion under Article 226 of the Constitution of India,” the order reads.