Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Gauhati High Court registers Suo Moto PIL on running hospital without parking space on a busy road

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The Gauhati High Court registered a Suo Moto PIL (Public Interest Litigation) while taking into account the fact that the location of the hospital is on a busy main road, the absence of parking space would in all probability result in massive traffic jams in the area, which would have a rippling effect on the main Kulikawn to Bawngkawn road ,  pertains to construction of a building in Chanmari, Chaltlang road, which is purportedly to be used for the Hospital. The said hospital does not have any parking space for four wheel vehicles.

The Aizawl Division Bench of Justice Michael Zothankhuma and Justice Marli Vankung noted that High Court  in its Orders dated 12.09.2018, 30.11.2018 and 16.01.2019, in WP(C)  (Taken Up) No. 55/2013, had flagged the issue of the Building Regulations of 2012 not providing or looking into the issue of parking of vehicles in respect of newly constructed hospitals within the State of Mizoram.

Despite the concerns raised by the Court in WP(C) (Taken Up) No. 55/2013 i.e. in RE: Laipuitlang Landslide Vs. State of Mizoram & 6 Ors, the State Government and the various authorities including the Aizawl Municipal Corporation appear to have allowed the hospital to function without any adequate parking space , the Court further noted.

Therefore the Court issued notice to the respondent authorities/persons.

Zoramchhana, counsel for the AMC (Aizawl Municipal Corporation)  submitted that he does not have any instructions with regard to why the hospital has been reopened, even though it was sealed by the AMC on 05.12.2022, on account of violation of the building permission/approval given by the AMC to the owner of the building, who built more than the approved floors on the building. Zoramchhana, also submits that the permission for opening the hospital has been given by the Directorate of Hospital & Medical Education, Government of Mizoram and the AMC’s only role is to grant a license permit under the Aizawl Municipal Corporation Licensing Regulations, 2012.  

The Court directed the respondents  to file affidavits, specifically stating as to whether they had taken into account the fact that the hospital did not have any parking space for four wheel vehicles, while granting permission for running the Hospital.  

The Court directed the Directorate of Hospital & Medical Education, Government of Mizoram shall in their affidavit, specifically state as to whether they are aware of the fact that the Agape Multi-Speciality Hospital had been built in violation of the approval given by the AMC and without having any parking space for four wheel vehicles.  

The Court further directed  Director General of Police , Superintendent of Police and Superintendent of Police, Traffic, Aizawl  shall submit their affidavits, specifically stating as to whether the running of the hospital would affect the traffic flow in the area, given the fact that there is no provision made for parking of four wheels vehicles in the hospital.

Further the Bench directed AMC to submit a detailed affidavit giving the approved construction plans and the actual construction made by the AMC. The AMC shall also clarify as to whether any parking provision is made in any of the floors of the building. The AMC shall also state as to whether there is any guidelines in force in relation to the requirement of hospitals to have parking space for 4 wheel vehicles.  

Moreover the Court directed the private respondent to submit an affidavit specifically stating as to whether any floor had been earmarked for providing parking space for four wheel vehicles and whether any construction has been made on the said proposed floor, thereby, taking away the parking space for four wheel vehicles. The affidavit should also specify the approval given by the AMC for construction of the building.

The Court further directed the respondent Doctor to submit an affidavit stating as to how many employees are expected to work in the hospital, the number of Doctors, staff nurses, drivers etc. He shall also state in his affidavit as to whether the hospital is going to run any four wheel Ambulance and whether the Doctor, staff and other persons involved in the hospital are going to be using four wheel vehicles to come to the hospital and whether there has been provision made in the hospital for parking of four wheel vehicles and shall also clarify as to the number of patients’ beds that are going to be put in the hospital for the sick.  

In the event no parking space is provided for four wheel vehicles, whenever patients alight from the vehicle or get into their vehicle, they would disrupt the flow of the vehicle on the main road and the hospital would in all probability be causing massive traffic jams not only in the area but all along the main road within the city and as such, it may not be in the public interest to allow the running of the hospital in  the absence of any parking space and where the construction itself has been made in violation of the approval given by the AMC. Entry of patients to the hospital would also require the vehicles to be parked in front of the hospital or along the main road, which is already found to be too narrow , observed the Bench.

As the hospital does not appear to have any adequate parking space for four wheel vehicles, the Court is of the view that it may be prudent for the hospital authorities to consider entry of patients, staff and visitors into the hospital from inside the building, after two wheel and four wheel vehicles enters the building, provided the AMC has approved the construction for a hospital building. “It should also be kept in mind that it is settled law that public interest will always outweigh individual interest. “

Matter is listed next  on 12th January, 2023.

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