Doctors cannot be threatened for bringing out the truth, the Supreme Court told the Delhi government today, rebuking it sharply for a police case filed against a doctor who had taken a video of the situation inside a government hospital and shared it. The doctor, who worked in a north Delhi hospital, was suspended and a First Information Report was filed against him, reported news agency Press Trust of India.
"You can't threaten doctors for bringing out the truth," the court said while hearing the case regarding the treatment of coronavirus patients in the city's hospitals.
"You cannot shoot the messengers. You cannot suppress the truth. Stop harassing the doctors, stop registering FIRs against them. Let them do their job. Make sure the harassment is stopped right away," said the bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MR Shah.
In the last hearing about the matter taken up suo motu, the court had sharply rebuked Delhi, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Gujarat governments for their handling of the pandemic and sought a status report on the facilities made for COVID-19 patients and the management of hospital staff.
"COVID-19 patients are treated worse than animals. In one case, a body was found in the garbage. Patients are dying and nobody is there to even attend to them," the Supreme Court had said. The situation in Delhi was "horrendous, horrific and pathetic", the court had added, seeking response from the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash hospital, which made headlines earlier this month over media reports about the conditions inside..
Coronavirus patients, the court had said, are "treated worse than animals".
Today, the court questioned if the Delhi government's action against doctors was not meant to "suppress the truth". "Several videos have come out... You do not want the truth to come out," the judges said.
"We are not leaving anything to chances," the judges said, directing the government to focus no remedial measures for patient care and disposal of dead bodies.
The court has asked the Delhi government to file a better affidavit.
The case will be heard again on Friday.
After the court's rebuke last Friday, Union home minister Amit Shah had held a series of meetings with the Chief Minister and health minister of Delhi, and political parties of the National Capital Region, which includes Delhi and its neighbouring areas.