The Delhi High Court said today it had never asked for Covid facilities at a five-star hotel and ordered the city government to “immediately withdraw” its decision to assign 100 rooms at the hotel Ashoka exclusively for judges and their families.
“When did we ask for a 100-bed facility at a five-star hotel? We had only said if a judicial officer or a judge or their family is infected, they should get hospital admission. Our concern is with respect to judicial officers in lower judiciary who have to hold court. We have already lost two judicial officers,” the High Court, furious, told the Delhi Government.
“Why did you cause this sort of a controversy? The perception is that we asked Delhi Government for a special facility. Or that you did it to appease us. You did everything on paper,” said the judges, apparently upset at questions raised over luxury Covid facilities set aside for them at a time people are struggling for hospital beds.
The Delhi government said there was no malice behind the move. It was the media that had created the perception, it said, explaining that many hotels in the city had been turned into Covid facilities attached to hospitals.
But the explanation did not wash with the court.
“Can you imagine that we can ask for something like this. People are not getting hospitals and we are asking you for beds in luxury hotels. Media is not wrong. Your order is wrong,” the High Court said.
“It is beyond thinking that as an institution we will ask for the facility. How can you give facilities to one section? It would be better that you withdraw these orders immediately.”
The Delhi government said it would.
Last evening, Chanakyapuri sub-divisional magistrate Geeta Grover had said in an order that 100 rooms at the Ashoka would be turned into Covid rooms for judges, judicial officers and their families.
The order said Primus Hospital would run the Covid care services at the hotel.
“The biomedical waste disposal will be the responsibility of the hospital. The staff of hotel shall be provided all protective gear and given basic adequate training. Ambulance for transfer facility will be provided by Primus Hospital,” the order said.
“For any shortage of hotel staff, the same will be provided by the hospital. All the services including rooms, housekeeping, disinfection and food for patients etc shall be provided by the hotel,” it said, adding that the hospital would collect the charges and make payments to the hotel.
Hospitals in Delhi have been sending out SOS for oxygen, needed by Covid patients, and the High Court has been hearing petitions by many of them.
Reports of a desperate scramble for hospital beds and some dying on roads or at home while waiting for admission have exposed the gravity of the crisis in cities like Delhi where the Covid spike has overwhelmed the health care system.
Last evening, Delhi reported the most number of deaths in a day – 380 – and over 20,000 fresh cases.