Coronavirus in Mumbai: Why can't railway coaches be used as ICUs to treat patients, asks Bombay High Court

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday ordered the Union ministry of railways to specify why coaches could not be used as ICU facilities. The HC has further asked the ministry to spell the steps it has undertaken to convert railway coaches into quarantine facilities.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Makarand Karnik also refused to issue any directive to the Maharashtra government or the BMC to re-open hospitals and nursing homes, which have been shut down either by administrative or by judicial orders.

The bench was dealing with a PIL filed by one Naresh Kapoor seeking reopening of all hospitals, nursing homes and dispensaries, which are presently closed either due to departmental orders or judicial orders for treating Covid and non-Covid patients.

The PIL also sought conversion of railway coaches into make-shift ICUs for effective treatment of patients.

"Insofar as the prayer for reopening of closed hospitals, nursing homes and dispensaries is concerned, we find no reason to grant the same as the facilities for treating Covid, as well as non-Covid patients presently at the disposal of the state as well as the BMC, are not that insufficient so as to call for an order to reopen closed hospitals nursing homes and dispensaries," CJ Datta said in his orders.

"Granting such a prayer would amount to tinkering with administrative/judicial orders. Such course is plainly impermissible. In our view, instead of the judiciary entering into the domain of the executive, opening up more facilities should be left to the latter's judgment considering the need, if at all, therefore," the CJ added.

"The Union ministry shall file an affidavit indicating therein the steps taken by the Western as well as the Central Railways to convert coaches into isolation/ quarantine cerntres. The ministry shall also spell out why ICU facilities in coaches are not considered necessary," CJ Datta added while adjourning the matter till July 2.

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