New Delhi:

The Delhi High Court Thursday warned private hospitals and nursing homes here that failure to comply with directions to update data on occupancy and availability of beds for COVID-19 patients in their institutions will invite precipitate actions.

The court, which had earlier also directed the hospitals and nursing homes to regularly update the information on the Delhi government’s portal, was informed that the institutions were still not complying with the judicial orders.

A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh directed the Delhi government’s Principal Secretary (Home) to again indicate to the hospitals and nursing homes about their obligation to comply with the court’s directions.

“We hope and expect the hospitals and nursing homes will comply with the directions. We would like to avoid taking any unpleasant action against them.

“However, we make it clear that if we find any willful or deliberate defiance of our orders, we will not shy away from taking precipitate actions to ensure compliance of orders,” the bench, which heard the matter for over five hours, said.

The court asked the Delhi government to file a status report on May 27 along with the list of hospitals and nursing homes which still have not updated the details on the portal and further proposed action against them.

The court had directed all the hospitals and nursing homes to update the data on availability and occupancy of beds every two hours and had said non-compliance of this direction shall be viewed strictly.

The court also noted that a meeting was held between Delhi government officers and representatives of hospitals to rationalise the charges for COVID-19 treatment.

Amicus curiae and senior advocate Raj Shekhar Rao told the court that while one set of hospitals suggested fixation of basic rates of hospital beds and for other facilities, they could be paid as per the DGHS rates, the other set of hospitals were in the favour of formation of a committee to discuss the rates.

The bench said since the discussion has already taken place between the stakeholders, it would leave it to the Principal Secretary (Health) to examine the same and take appropriate decision which shall be done keeping in mind the interest of hospital authorities and public and that the decision be conveyed to the court on May 24.

Advocate Abhay Gupta had raised a grievance that despite a June 20 last year circular of Delhi government that the charges for treatment of a COVID patient in a private hospital were capped at Rs 18,000 per day including rates for use of oxygen, gloves, bipap machines, many of them are charging more than Rs 60,000 per day.

The court had found that the circular mandated capping of the prices charged by private hospitals for treatment only in respect of 60 per cent of the beds of the total hospital bed capacity and and had asked the Delhi government to examine if the order needs revision.

The court had said the government should keep in view the huge surge in the number of COVID-19 patients as also the fact that many of hospitals have been converted into a 100 per cent COVID facility.