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SC dismisses plea of conversion of Bhopal gas victim hospital to COVID-19 centre

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a writ petition challenging the order of Government converting the Bhopal Gas Victims Hospital exclusively to COVID-19 centre.

A writ petition was been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the orders of the state government and the hospital as being violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Indian Constitution and to develop & update clinical protocols with particular regard to victims of the Bhopal gas disaster for COVID-19 related morbidity for treatment in other hospitals with isolation facilities.

The petitioner Munni Bee is a 68 years old lady who is Bhopal gas victim and underwent a tracheotomy surgery on 11th of March and since then, has been in the General ICU under critical medical care. However, the petitioner has pointed out that she has been asked to leave the hospital and make space for COVID-19 patients, thus the petitioner humbly submits that it is the contravention of the principle of equality enshrined under Article 14 of the constitution.

The petitioner and Bhopal Group for Information and Action have also informed the Court that during midnight of March 24, the hospital had started discharging all patients and it is stated in the petition that all the emergency services of the casualty ward of BMHRC have been closed, along with the closure of all the dialysis facilities from March 25.

In the view of above, the applicants also raised that in the impugned order it was directed that all the health care services and facilities will now be provided only for COVID-19 patients at BMHRC and all other health care services will be stopped with immediate effect, as result the survivors, most of whom were already struggling for their lives due to the ghastly effect of the disaster, are left stranded without any medical treatment and support. Consequently, it amounts to treating dissimilarly situated people as similar and there is grave and urgent danger to the life of the applicants as all of them are left with no medical care and treatment.

The petitioner thus sought to immediately begin emergency and urgent medical treatment, resume OPD facilities and to keep open eight alternate community units of the BMHRC which can be used for COVID-19 patients instead of the hospital which is solely meant for the victims of the industrial disaster, and to pass the interim orders in the view of above.

The case was heard by the division bench comprising of Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and Justice L. Nageswara Rao who observed the submission made in petition that it is the violation of the directions issued by the Supreme Court on October 3, 1991, that Union Carbide Corporation to build a 500-bed hospital with the best services and equipment for treatment of the survivors of the disaster, also called for medical surveillance and expert medical care for the victims pursuant to the settlement with union Carbide Corporation and Union Carbide India Ltd and it is the breach of the terms of the Trust Deed Under which the Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre was set up..

The court while dismissing the case on Tuesday asked the petitioners to approach the Madhya Pradesh High Court at Jabalpur to seek redressal of their grievance as the MP High Court is in position to deal with issue at hand, however, a liberty was given to the petitioner that in case they fail before the High Court then they can move before the Supreme Court again.

-India Legal Bureau

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