- Coronavirus patients are being treated "worse than animals", court said
- It also sent notices to Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Bengal and centre
- The top court also asked Delhi to explain the fall in COVID-19 testing
Coronavirus patients are being treated "worse than animals", the Supreme Court said on Friday as it pulled up the Delhi government over the "horrendous, horrific and pathetic" situation in the national capital amid a spurt in cases.
The situation is also "grim" in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, the top court said, seeking response from the four states and the central government as it took note of reports of improper handling of COVID-19 patients and disposal of bodies in the country.
"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 said. It also asked the Arvind Kejriwal government to explain the fall in coronavirus testing in the city.
"Why has your testing gone down from 7,000 to 5,000 a day when Chennai and Mumbai have increased their testing from 16,000 to 17,000?" the court asked. Requests for coronavirus tests cannot be denied, the top court said, adding that the "procedure can be simplified so that more and more tests are done".
Delhi has the third highest number of coronavirus cases in India after Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. The national capital has logged 34,687 patients so far and 1,085 deaths, according to the Union Health Ministry. Earlier, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had repeatedly said that the city was prepared to tackle the pandemic. Amid a spurt in the number of infections, Mr Kejriwal yesterday said that the cases were expected to rise up to 5.5 lakh by July 31.
Slamming the AAP government for not following the Union Health Ministry's guidelines, the top court said: "The situation in Delhi is horrendous, horrific and pathetic. (There is a) very sorry state of affairs in its hospitals that aren't giving due care and concern to the bodies. Patients' families aren't even informed about deaths. Families haven't been able to attend the last rites too in some cases."
"Patients are running from pillar to post to get admitted while large numbers of beds are vacant. According to some reports, a government hospital in Delhi had bodies in lobby and waiting area. Inside the ward, most beds were unoccupied," it added.
During the hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that some of the visuals he saw were "shocking". The matter will be heard next week.
On Monday, former law minister Ashwani Kumar had written to Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, underling the manner in which COVID-19 patients and bodies were being handled. "Right to die with dignity is a fundamental right and it includes the right to a decent burial or cremation," he said in his letter as he mentioned several media reports, including recent incidents in Puducherry and Madhya Pradesh.
In Puducherry, a video of government workers hurriedly throwing the body of a COVID-19 positive man into a pit had caused massive outrage, prompting the administration to order a probe into the incident.
In another incident, an 80-year-old was seen tied to a hospital bed in Madhya Pradesh in shocking visuals after he allegedly failed to make payment of fees for his treatment. The hospital, however, claimed that he was having convulsions.