Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Covid-19 protocol: Delhi HC dismisses plea with Rs 25,000 cost, says it’s publicity interest litigation

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The Delhi High Court on Tuesday dismissed a writ petition seeking modification of Covid-19 treatment protocol for mild cases with a cost of Rs 25,000, saying the petition though filed as a Public Interest Litigation is nothing but Publicity Interest Litigation.

The petitioners had sought a direction to the Union Government, the Indian Council of Medical Research and Niti Aayog to consider and respond to their representations regarding modification of treatment protocol of Covid-19 patients especially mild cases.

The division bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh said, “Everybody is advising government. Now you are advising government that which medicine should be given by doctors. If everybody will come like this, there will be difficulty to go for every representation. Treatment protocols are being finalised by very doctors and you are not even showing what error they are making in their protocol.”

After taking the court’s permission, the ASG said, “Situation has come to this that we have to appoint an advisor who would tell us that which advice we should take and which not.”

The petitioners are social workers, researchers and medical experts immensely qualified in their respective area of expertise. They submitted that the use of antipyretics in viral infections increase risk of mortality. There is not even a single clinical trial testing the safety and efficacy of antipyretics in the treatment of viral infections, especially Covid-19. On the other hand, numerous animal studies clearly indicate use of antipyretics as listed in must dos of the treatment protocol issued by ICMR, results in increase in the risk of mortality.

The petitioners’ counsel submitted that this petition has the support of as many as 104 doctors across the country on an online petition and 3 more doctors has also issued certificates.

After going through the facts and contentions made by the petitioner, the Court held, “There is no reason to entertain the present writ petition. The treatment protocol of Covid-19 for India is not fixed. These types of protocols are being finalised by the Indian Council of Medical Research and NITI Aayog after experiments, discussions and suggestions etc. Fixing treatment protocol of Covid-19 patients in India is a complex policy decision of the Union of India and that cannot be altered by this court by using its power under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.”

“If these kind of petitions are allowed by the court, then every petitioner will come and make his own suggestions for the treatment of all the patients in this country. This court cannot alter the medical treatment to be given to the patients.”

The Court further held, “We see no reason to give any direction to the respondents regarding which medicine is to be given and what dose of the medicine is to be given. If such kind of petitions are to be allowed every now and then the high ranking officers of the respondents will be busy with the disposal of the 100s of representation. Respondents 2 and 3 are otherwise also very busy with the present Covid-19 situation coupled with newly-developed disease named Mucormycosis. Every now and then, this court cannot give a direction to the respondents to decide the writ presentations unless the facts of the case so warrants.”

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Chief Justice Patel reiterated, “For every whimsical idea of the petitioner, we cannot give directions to the respondents to decide the writ presentations. Respondents have enough experts in this country and has multi-membered committee to decide the treatment protocol for Covid-19 patients. A team of experts is taking the decisions based on verifying data and the experiments. This cannot be altered so easily. The Court has no expertise on the treatment of Covid-19 patients across the country.”

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