A severe indictment of Gujarat govt

A severe indictment of Gujarat govt

Judge gavel, scales of justice and law books in courtGavel, scales of justice and law books

The Gujarat High Court’s comments on the state government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic is a severe indictment and exposes its lapses and failures in many respects. Courts in different parts of the country have dealt with issues related to COVID-19 in petitions and criticised, advised or issued instructions to governments. They have also refused to interfere in certain matters. But the Gujarat High Court’s is the most stringent criticism of a government to date. It touched on all areas of the fight against COVID-19, including the health infrastructure and facilities, the policies, strategies and attitudes of the government and the conduct of those like private hospitals and health professionals. The court found right and necessary actions and conduct lacking in all these areas and even personally criticised the state’s health minister, wondering whether he had any idea about the problems faced by the patients, doctors, health staff and others.  

The COVID-19 situation is very bad in Gujarat, with the number of cases leaping up every day, patients not getting proper treatment, and the government failing to provide facilities and to take adequate preventive measures. The COVID-19 mortality rate in the state is the highest in the country. The court described the Ahmedabad civil hospital, where most cases in the city are treated, as a “dungeon’’, and noted that the hospitals are “burdened with the lack of PPEs, shortage of ventilators, ICUs and isolating wards’’. Private hospitals have refused to admit COVID-19 patients though the government asked them to reserve 50% of the beds for them, but no action has been taken against them. The court was also critical of the government’s reluctance to do more testing on the ground that more number of tests, which may bring out more positive cases, will create a fear psychosis among the people. 

Among all the states, Gujarat’s handling of the COVID-19 situation has been particularly inept. The court has issued a series of orders to the government on the matter, after taking suo motu cognisance of the situation and also based on petitions, in the last few weeks. Last week's criticism was the most severe. In the first place the public health infrastructure in the state is poor and inadequate. The number of public rural hospitals in Gujarat is one-third of that in Bihar. Facilities are bad and there was no effort to improve them even after the COVID-19 situation started deteriorating. The court’s concerns and criticism will hopefully lead to more effective action from the government. 

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox