In stern remarks, the Allahabad High Court on Tuesday observed that the death of COVID-19 patients just for non-supply of oxygen to hospitals is a criminal act, "not less than a genocide" by authorities entrusted the task to ensure the oxygen supply chain is maintained. The remarks were made on some news items doing the rounds on social media regarding the death of COVID-19 patients due to lack of oxygen in Lucknow and Meerut districts. The court also ordered a probe into the incidents.
A two judges-bench comprising justices Siddharth Verma and Justice Ajit Kumar passed the order on a Public Interest Litigation on the spread of COVID-19 in the state and the condition of quarantine centres.
"We are at pain in observing that death of COVID patients just for non-supplying of oxygen to the hospitals is a criminal act and not less than a genocide by those who have been entrusted the task to ensure continuous procurement and supply chain of the liquid medical oxygen," the court observed.
"How can we let our people die in this way when science is so advanced that even heart transplantation and brain surgery are taking place these days," it added.
"Normally, we would have not directed the state and district administration to enquire into such news that has been gone viral on social media, but since the advocates who were appearing in this PIL supported such news and even submitted that more or less, the situations in other districts of the state are the same, we find it necessary to direct for immediate remedial measures to be taken by the government," the court said.
The court directed the DMs of Lucknow and Meerut to inquire into such news items within 48 hours and submit their reports on the next date. They are also directed to appear before the court online on the next date of hearing.
The court was informed about a viral news item that five patients had died in the ICU of a new trauma centre of Medical College, Meerut, last Sunday. Similarly, Sun Hospital, Gomti Nagar, Lucknow and another private hospital at Meerut had taken their hands off admitted COVID-19 patients only for the reason that oxygen supply was not made even after demand.