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Substantial data relating to Covid-19 resources must not be tampered with: Karnataka High Court

It is necessary to ensure material documents relating to Covid-19 data and stock of medicines, oxygen cylinders, and Remdesivir available are not tampered with. Therefore, the record concerning the supply of oxygen to Chamarajanagar district maintained by the Office of Deputy Commissioner was ordered to be seized immediately by the Chief Secretary so as to remain under his custody until further instructions are given. A division bench consisting of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Aravind Kumar while adjudicating the matter in Re Karnataka High Court Case [W.P.No.6435/2020] dealt with the shortage of oxygen supply to Covid-19 patients in Chamarajanagar district.

The Government District Hospital in Chamarajanagar District ran out of oxygen supply due to which 24 Covid -19 patients died within a span of 24 hours. The city of Mysuru failed to supply oxygen to the district hospital on time. The case papers of the patients who died in this incident were taken into custody and the Chief Secretary appointed by the State Government was asked to probe into this matter to determine if something suspicious was noticed. Further, in the city of Bengaluru, it was contended that 10 major hospitals ran out of oxygen supply.

In the opinion of the Court, the incident apart from being devastating, also questioned the health care system of the country and its credibility. The High Court demanded that the State Government must immediately set out the projected requirement of oxygen of the State for at least a week. It is very crucial to uphold the right to life of citizens provided under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. With respect to the aforementioned facts, the High Court held that the Chief Secretary must seize all documents relating to the particular case, including the availability of Covid-19 resources and case details about those patients who died due to oxygen supply shortage. Further, the State Government must come up with effective guidelines to control the distribution of oxygen among various hospitals in Karnataka.

The Bench hence sounded the judgment that “It is the obligation of both the Governments to ensure that proper medical treatment is provided to all those who are infected with COVID-19 in view of the right to health being an integral part of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India and officers of the State Government will render necessary cooperation to the said Committee as the ultimate object of the said Committee will be to make a fact-finding inquiry so that the report of the inquiry can be very useful for the State Government to ensure that such unfortunate incidents do not occur in the State hereinafter.”

Click here to read the judgment.

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