Till the last day before the vacations kicked in, The Delhi High Court bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli worked keenly to try and ameliorate the pains of the public within the complete mess around facilities and arrangements for the Covid-19 second wave.
The bench revived a petition by Rakesh Malhotra (Rakesh Malhotra vs GNCTD and Ors.) on April 19. The petition was filed last year with respect to the testing, arrangements and for proper treatment of Covid/non-Covid patients and also for publishing correct data on the websites with regards to cases of Covid-19. Thereafter, the bench entertained multiple applications and petitions including pubic interest litigations in this aspect.
The bench was so energized that it gave directions to the Delhi and Central governments, along with different departments with respect to shortage of beds (oxygenated/ventilators), medical oxygen, oxygen concentrators, Remdesivir, fabiflu, fabiparavir, drugs like paracetamol etc.; lack of testing, lack of information over website with respect to number of beds, oxygen available, oxygen left, booking of beds etc. (government portal; both center and state).
Also with the purview of the court came the availability and disbursal of Covid essential kits; segregation of different helplines and their proper operation and awareness (Covid, mental health, child care, senior citizens); inter-state transport of oxygen (liquid and concentrators); operations and guidelines for moholla clinics; guidelines for door to door announcements with regards to COVID awareness campaign; mobile testing units; directions with regards to creation of temporary cremation grounds; proper plying of ambulances, over-charging by ambulances; over-pricing of drugs by chemists; price capping of beds in private and government hospitals etc.
Then there were issued of reservation of beds for the Economically Weaker Section in private as well as government hospitals; conversion of health care facilities into Covid testing facilities; reviving old hospitals/ medical facilities; duties (Custom, IGST) levied on import of medical equipment and medicines; black marketing and hoarding of the drugs; establishment of PSA plants within NCT of Delhi etc.
The bench, presided by Justice Sanghi, which was later joined by Justice Jasmeet Singh in place of Justice Palli, continued undertaking the affairs pertaining to the ongoing crisis as the lone pillar protecting the national capital of this country.
On the last day before the one-month vacation, too, the bench directed the state and Central governments to stick to the timelines in relation to status of PSA plants and oxygen storage tanks as mentioned in their status report. The bench also asked for the filing of a fresh report for the indulgence of the bench when they reassemble after vacations.
The bench also took note of the financial crunch of New Delhi Municipal Corporation after trifurcation alongside the shortcomings in the medical infrastructure of NCT Delhi. The bench directed the NDMC to file a status report with respect to expenditure incurred in running of the 6 hospitals and colleges under NDMC namely Hindu Rao, Kasturba, RBIPMT, Girdhari Lal, MVID, Balak Ram hospitals.
The bench further took consideration of the ICMR advisory on treatment of Mucormycosis and know-how for use of Amphotericin B (Deoxycholate), Liposomal Amphotericin B, Posaconazole during pandemic. The bench observed that the said advisory shows that the ICMR has advocated for use of Amphotericin B (Deoxycholate) i.e. the conventional drug as the standard treatment for Mucormycosis while observing it’s affects with respect to nephrotoxicity. It also advised that in case of Cerebral Mucormycosis and in case of intolerance to Deoxycholate the same can be treated with Liposomal Amphotericin B.
The bench was satisfied by the aforesaid advisory by ICMR. However, the bench directed the ICMR to continue to review the guidelines after every fortnight.
The bench at last preferred learned Amicus Rao’s notes wherein he raised the point of CSR as referred u/s 135 r/w schedule 7 of companies act 2013 and the companies (CSR Policy) rules, 2014 which mandates certain categories of company to undertake CSR activities.
Rao submitted that the recent advisory may hinder the CSR of Companies that are undertaking production of Vaccine. He further pointed out the judgment rendered by this court in Mohd. Ahmed (minor) vs. UoI and Ors. wherein the court called upon MCA to deal with the aforesaid limitation wherein the MCA later adopted the amendment to Schedule VII of the Companies Act, 2013 to bring clarity regarding the ambit of ‘promoting preventive health care’ as included in the said schedule.
The bench observed that as per Rao’s submissions, despite aforesaid communication from the MCA the amendment to the relevant rule has not been incorporated.
The bench directed the Centre to file a status report on this regard as well and made a note that in the light of the judgment the MCA would be bound by statement made to court and the consequential steps be taken by MCA so as to expand the definition of CSR activity.