Delhi HC takes Delhi govt to task for not setting up Covid centre in Jawaharlal Nehru University

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The Delhi High Court on Thursday expressed its displeasure over the inaction of Delhi Government to set up Covid-19 centre in the JNU Campus.

The bench was hearing the plea filed by the Students and Teachers Union of Jawaharlal Nehru University seeking directions for setting up of the Covid-19 care facilities, a Covid-19 response team and certain oxygen facilities inside the University campus.

Advocate Abhik Chimi appeared on behalf of the association petitioner and submitted that the order had been passed on May 16 which specified four directions specially that there should be Covid-19 facility in the campus, “now what happen subsequently that both the respondents in great bureaucratic zeal have filed  20 reports, however, on ground today nothing has happened.”

A single-judge bench of Justice Rekha Palli raised a question to the counsel appearing for the respondent/Delhi Government as to “why the Covid-19 centre is not functioning?….there was a direction to you, to set a up a place where you have to arrange doctors why have you not done it? You have to do it, the direction was passed to you on 13th May, once the court has passed order you have to do it. Why did you come here without instructions? 

The Delhi Government counsel replied that they are waiting for the doctors and para medical staff to provide the necessary requirements.

“As of now, we have hospitals and we have set up Covid-19 facilities for the people coming from outside also. we have to share the separate set of doctors for the centre and some of the doctors have tested Positive,” he added.

The bench noted that despite repeated order passed by this court, it appears that the direction to set up a Covid-19 facility centre at JNU Campus have not been followed. Thus, it is the inaction on part of the Government of NCT which has led to the centre not been made the centre operational till date. 

“I want positive action now, I am not interested in interactions now. You should have done it long back,” said Justice Palli. 

Earlier, October 27, 2021, the matter was adjourned as Siddharth Dwivedi for Delhi Government sought for time to obtain instructions regarding assigning Doctors and equipment to Sabaramati Hostel, the proposed building for the Covid Care Centre.

The Court on that day was informed by the counsel appearing for Jawaharlal Nehru University that it had already earmarked a space in the Sabarmati Dormitory for setting up of Covid-19 Centre in JNU Campus, the situation on the ground level remains the same as onAugust 13, 2021 and till date, no infrastructure or medical staff has been earmarked by the Respondent No 2/Delhi Govt for the proposed Covid Centre in the JNU Campus. 

The petition stated that upon outbreak of second wave of Covid-19 in second week of April, the petitioners had written two letters to the Registrar of JNU, informing him about the alarming situation in the campus and suggesting various steps to be taken in order to mitigate the situation, but the Registrar failed to respond. As there was no contact with the Registrar, the petitioners wrote a letter to the Vice-Chancellor of JNU, but again to no avail.

JNU claimed that in the recent times, around 10 students have been tested positive till now for Covid-19 and in this these alarming stages, the Covid-19 has been not been set up even after the directions from the court. The university made it clear that there is no delay from their side as they were supposed to allot the space and the staffs were supposed to be provided by the Delhi Government.

Thereafter, in the light of a number of residents of JNU campus testing positive for Covid-19 virus and inaction on the part of JNU, the petitioners wrote a letter to the Additional District Magistrate, New Delhi, Mr. Karthikeyan, requesting a Covid-19 Management Facility be set up inside the JNU campus. The ADM wrote back and provided “Guidelines for Gated Residential Complexes Desirous of Setting up small COVID Care Facility by Resident Welfare Associations/Residential Societies/Non-Governmental Organisation (NGOs)” issued by the Directorate General of Health Services, Govt. of NCT of Delhi, furthermore, informing the petitioners that the Sub-Divisional Magistrate would visit the University campus in order to inspect if the University infrastructure is adequate for conducting a Covid-19 facility.

The Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Ankur Meshram, upon the request of the petitioners inspected the building proposed to be Covid-19 Care Centre and stated that the said building is adequate. The SDM informed the petitioners the said building can be approved to be a Covid-19 Care Centre subject to JNU sharing the responsibility of maintaining such a facility.

On 13th May, 2021 the Delhi High Court had passed the following directions-

– Immediate isolation of residents who are tested Covid-19 positive. A Covid-19 Care Centre be set up inside the JNU campus. The premises for the same be identified by the Covid-19 Task Force, in consultation with the concerned SDM.

– The SDM and JNU Task Force shall ensure the arrangement for paramedic/nursing staff, when required. The doctors on campus also could be empanelled for volunteering.

– The JNU Task Force may coordinate with the SDM of and with the Delhi Government in need of oxygenated beds or ICU facility.

– Insofar as the creation of a dedicated ‘COVID Health Centre’ with oxygenated beds in JNU is concerned, the feasibility, requirement and the necessity of the same may be discussed and deliberated upon by the COVID Task Force with the SDM of the concerned area and Delhi Government.

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