The Delhi High Court on Friday sought the stand of the Centre and the city government on a plea seeking a CBI probe into the death of 21 Covid patients at the Jaipur Golden Hospital here in April allegedly due to oxygen shortage.
Justice Rekha Palli issued a notice to the Union ministries of home and health and the Delhi government seeking their response by August 20 on the plea filed by the families of some patients who died on the intervening night of April 23 and 24.
The plea, filed through advocate Utsav Bains, has contended that the cause of death of the patients was respiratory failure due to insufficient supply of oxygen and not comorbidities, as stated by a Delhi government committee in its report.
The petitioners have claimed that the committee came out with an "erroneous" report that those who died did not suffer suffocation due to lack of oxygen supply.
The petition has sought quashing of the committee's report and a direction for a probe by CBI or an independent agency into the deaths "so that the truth can be brought to light and justice be given to the persons who died and their families" and they be provided compensation.
The plea has alleged that the incident took place "due to deliberate inaction and failure of the respondents (Centre, Delhi government and the hospital) to provide adequate oxygen to the patients despite knowing that any shortage of oxygen supply would lead to their immediate death.
As a result, "the respondents herein have rendered themselves not only liable to pay compensation to the families of the victims but also for criminal prosecution" for culpable homicide, the plea has said.
Referring to the report of the committee, the petition has claimed that it was prepared to favour the Delhi government and that the finding in it, that the deceased were receiving some form of oxygen therapy was made to mislead the court.
"The committee did not examine the issue of demand and supply of oxygen to the Hospital and also has not taken statements by families of victims on record," it has claimed.
The petitioners have also contended that the hospital did not even inform the family members about the shortage otherwise they would have arranged for at least high flow oxygen cylinders and this would have saved the life of their loved ones who died as the pressure in the cylinders was low.
"It is submitted that most of the patients (now deceased) were recovering in as much as they were regularly informing their family members about improvements in their health. The victims were in constant touch with their family members and were stable," it has said.
It has contended that the Centre, Delhi government and the hospital "were under a legal and moral obligation to ensure no-one dies due to non-supply of oxygen".
"Therefore, the State is also under legal and moral obligation to provide compensation and sustenance to the families who have lost their family member due to inaction of the respondents and also ensure that those who are responsible for the deaths of patients due to the failure to provide oxygen to patients are brought to justice, no matter, how high, powerful or mighty they are," the petition has said.