The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay high court (HC) has directed the state and district authorities to respond to a public interest litigation (PIL) that sought investigation and inquiry into the Covid-19 deaths that occurred at the civil hospital in Jalgaon. The petition claimed that the civic hospital was the only hospital in the district with a Covid-19 facility, and owing to lack of facilities and negligence by the authorities, the patients admitted there succumbed to the virus.
A division bench of justices SV Gangapurwala and justice RG Avachat, while hearing the PIL filed by social worker Pratibha Shinde and two others through senior counsel Gayatri Singh and advocate Ankit Kulkarni, was informed that the death rate for Covid-19 patients in Jalgaon was 12.3%, which was the highest in Maharashtra, even as Jalgaon, Bhusawal, Amalner and Pachora areas of the district accounted for 80% of the total 112 deaths till June 4.
While making submissions, Kulkarni said that Shinde and the others had lost their loved ones, as the Jalgaon district and hospital administrations had failed to provide proper care and treatment to the patients as per the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), central and state government guidelines. He added that even after being admitted to the hospital, the health of the patients had not been monitored, nor were routine check-ups undertaken.
“There is extreme negligence, dereliction of duties and complete mismanagement on the part of the hospital and district administration, which has cost hundreds of people of Jalgaon their lives,” the petition has pointed out.
Kulkarni had referred to the death of two women from the same family within nine days despite being admitted to the civil hospital, as well as the suspension of the dean and two doctors of the hospital for their negligence to drive home his point.
In light of these submissions, the PIL has sought a high-level inquiry under the chairmanship of the state chief secretary into the deaths in the hospital’s Covid-19 ward and also sought compensation worth ₹50 lakh with damages for the family of the two women for negligence on part of hospital and district administration.
After the state government and Jalgaon authorities sought time to respond to the plea, the bench posted the hearing for July 3.