HC seeks Delhi govt reply on Ganga Ram Hospital’s plea for quashing FIR over COVID-19 norms

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Published: June 15, 2020 3:49 PM

It added that one one hand, the Delhi government has declared the hospital as a dedicated COVID facility by earmarking 80 per cent beds for this purpose and on the other hand, they pass an order prohibiting SGRH to carry out any COVID test.

It said that as per the guidelines, it is “mandatory” for labs to collect samples through RT-PCR app.

The Delhi High Court Monday sought response of the AAP government on a plea by Sir Ganga Ram Hospital (SGRH) seeking quashing of an FIR lodged by Delhi Police against it for allegedly violating COVID-19 regulation norms. Justice C Hari Shankar, who conducted the hearing through video conferencing, issued notice to the Delhi government and listed the matter for further hearing on August 11.

On the interim plea seeking a stay on the investigation and further proceedings, the court has listed the matter for Tuesday for hearing hearing arguments. Advocate Rohit Aggarwal, representing the hospital, said they are seeking quashing of the FIR lodged on June 5 at Rajinder Nagar police station under Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of IPC and the proceedings initiated thereafter.

The plea has also sought to set aside the Delhi government’s June 3 order, prohibiting RT/PCR sampling for COVID- 19 suspect/contact cases with immediate effect. SGRH, a private hospital with 675 beds, was declared a COVID-19 facility by the Delhi government and told to reserve 80 per cent beds for coronavirus patients. According to the FIR, the complainant is a senior official of the Delhi Health Department who has alleged that the hospital was not using RT-PCR app while collecting COVID-19 samples.

It said that as per the guidelines, it is “mandatory” for labs to collect samples through RT-PCR app. The official has also alleged “violation” on part of the hospital in not adhering to COVID-19 regulation norms, as specified under the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897.

“The CDMO-cum-mission director central has mentioned that Sir Ganga Ram Hospital is still not using RT-PCR app even till June 3, which is a clear violation of directions issued under Epidemic Disease Covid-19 Regulation 2020 Act,” the FIR said.

Seeking to streamline the testing process, the Union Health Ministry launched a dedicated RT-PCR mobile-based app for labs to fill the data at the point of sample collection. Following the directives, the Delhi government made it mandatory for all lab collection and testing centres to download that app. The hospital, in its petition, claimed that the FIR was vague and does not disclose commissioning of an offence under Section 188 of IPC.

A mere disobedience of the order is not good enough to make out an offence under Section 188 of IPC but the resultant obstruction, annoyance or injury or risk of obstruction, annoyance or injury to any person or for that matter cause danger to human life, health or safety or causes or tends to cause a riot or affray which makes it an offence under Section 188 of IPC. The FIR being silent about any such effect, the same is liable to be quashed, it said.

Three notices were issued by the Delhi government to the hospital and the entire exercise appears to be motivated and malicious to achieve some non-bona fide and ulterior objectives, it said. The plea, also filed through advocate Gunjan Sinha Jain, said that on the one hand, the Delhi government in its notices said that samples of asymptomatic patients are being collected and processed for testing by the hospital, on the other hand, it says that app based collection is not happening.

Both the stands are self contradictory inasmuch as the fact they know that samples of asymptomatic patients are being collected for further testing clearly shows that the respondents are fully aware of the data submitted by the petitioner, it said.

It added that one one hand, the Delhi government has declared the hospital as a dedicated COVID facility by earmarking 80 per cent beds for this purpose and on the other hand, they pass an order prohibiting SGRH to carry out any COVID test.

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