SC asks States and Centre to submit fire safety audit reports for COVID-19 hospitals



The Supreme Court instructed the state of Gujarat to file the report of an inquiry into the fire incident that took place in COVID-19 hospitals by December 11.

The Supreme Court heard a suo motu case to guarantee the appropriate treatment of COVID 19 patients in hospitals and solemn handling of dead patients.

The apex court asked for a comprehensive response from the states as well as the Centre regarding adherence to guidelines issued for safety against COVID-19 and application of fire safety guidelines in hospitals in India.

Recently a fire incident took place in a designated COVID-19 hospital, in Rajkot, Gujarat. Several patients had died, which gave rise to issues regarding fire safety measures in hospitals across India.

A bench headed by Justices Ashok Bhushan, R S Reddy and M R Shah sought a detailed affidavit to be filed within three days on the issue of the suo-motu case from the Solicitor General, Tushar Mehta.

They further asked the states to file the Affidavits by 11th December and the case would proceed in the next hearing on 14th December.

Apart from this, there will be a probe on the Ahmedabad fire incident too.

A request was made by the law officer to the Gujarat government asking them to appoint the retired judge who is looking in the Ahmedabad incident to probe the matter.

“Many states were required to report to us on December 4 but some have delayed so we haven’t been able to file a collate report,” said the Law Officer.

The representative of the Centre and state also told the court that the Committee for inquiries has been set up to inquire into fires at COVID-19 hospitals.

“Nothing more could have been done”, he said.

” What has the committee done all this time?” Justice Shah said.

After the States and the Centre give suggestion regarding the current issues a detailed report would be prepared on the fire safety measures.

The Apex court had earlier pulled up the authorities for not ensuring the strict adherence of the COVID-19 norms and guidelines but on the other hand, the court had also put a stay on the Gujarat High Courts direction of making the people not wearing a face mask to do community service.

The Supreme Court had further asked the Gujarat High Court to implement guidelines and norms strictly and expressed grave concern over the increasing number of cases across the country.

“We have nothing to hide, the truth must come out. Since one Committee (Rajkot) for inquiring into the fire incident at the covid hospital is headed by Justice Mehta, the same may be applied for other committee at Ahmedabad,” Solicitor General said.

On 3rd December, the court had instructed the Centre and State governments to lay down suggestions for better implementation of guidelines and SOPs for social distancing and wearing masks during COVID-19.

The court held that suggestions by states (for guaranteeing compliance of Covid safety measures and for enforcing mask-wearing) may come on record by end of this week.

The bench observed that they were not achieving desired results, and neither were they being followed by most of the states, even though very strict guidelines were placed ensuring social distancing was followed, and masks were worn.

The court further noticed that there have been large public gatherings including political, religious, ceremonial where the social distancing is forgotten, having no legal authority to keep a check on such social gatherings.

A notice was issued to the State of Himachal Pradesh to file a status report for treatment of Covid patients in different hospitals, infrastructure, and facilities available there and listed the Suo Motu petition for consideration on 9th December.

Observing the increasing number of COVID-19, the bench had directed the States of Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat & Assam to file status reports concerning Covid 19 cases.

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