The Delhi High Court Thursday constituted a committee of doctors, including AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria, to visit two luxurious hotels to examine the feasibility of using them as extended COVID hospitals.
The high court's order came on separate petitions by two five star hotels -- Hotel Surya (New Friends Colony) and Hotel Crown Plaza (Okhla) -- challenging the Delhi government's decision to use them as extended COVID hospitals, saying it is not advisable due to the presence of air conditioning, lack of large lifts which are capable of being used for stretchers and other required measures.
Justice Navin Chawla, in the order, said "as the issues raised by the petitioners (hotels) would also have a bearing on whether it is advisable/feasible to use these hotels as COVID hospitals and may not lead to an adverse impact on the patients or the staff working therein, I deem it proper to constitute a committee of doctors, with a request to the committee to visit these two hotels and give a report on the advisability/feasibility of these hotels being used as extended COVID hospitals."
"I request Randeep Guleria, Director, AIIMS and Dr V K Paul, Member of the Niti Aayog, to visit the two hotels in question and give their report on the advisability/feasibility of using these hotels as extended COVID hospitals," the judge said.
The high court also said the hotels management shall be entitled to depute one officer each to highlight their concerns to this committee and the Delhi government may also depute its officers who may help the panel and give their inputs.
It said the committee shall also be entitled to take the help of other persons as may be deemed necessary in this exercise and asked it to submit the report on or before June 14.
The report shall be provided to the authorities who shall place it on June 15, the high court said and asked the committee to inform Delhi government counsel Gautam Narayan about the date and time they intend to visit the hotels so that he can communicate it further and necessary arrangements be made for the smooth inspection.
The court listed the matter for further hearing on June 15.
CHL Ltd-owned Hotel Surya (New Friends Colony) and Today Hotels Pvt Ltd-owned Hotel Crown Plaza (Okhla) challenged the Delhi government's May 29 and June 2 orders saying it is not advisable to use them as extended COVID hospitals due to the presence of air conditioning, lack of large lifts which are capable of being used for stretchers, lack of bio-waste disposal, as also the measure to safeguard the hotel work force that may be required by the hotels for providing services.
Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, representing the Delhi government, submitted that these apprehensions are unfounded and looking into the grave nature of the situation that has arisen because of the pandemic, certain drastic measures have been taken by the government, including these two orders.
The Delhi government's Health Department has ordered that certain hotels, including Hotel Surya and Hotel Crown Plaza, be requisitioned by the District Magistrate and be given to certain private hospitals for the purpose of converting them in to extended COVID Hospitals wherein medical services shall be provided by the said private hospitals by admitting COVID-19 positive patients as per their medical condition.
Hotel Surya and Hotel Crown Plaza were directed to be requisitioned and handed over to the Indraprastha Apollo Hospital and Batra Hospital respectively for converting them into an extended COVID hospitals.
As per the orders, the government has also decided the rates payable by each patient on each night stay. The plea said the government has fixed the fees without consulting it.
It said in all the previous orders, the private hospitals have been given a free hand to fix the rates.