After Mumbai and Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court, now Aurangabad bench has taken suo motu cognizance of various issues revolving around the Covid-19 crisis in Maharashtra especially the Marathwada region. The HC has ordered the state and the Union governments to "be prepared" and respond to the plea on Monday.
A bench of Justices Ravindra Ghuge and Bhalchandra Debadwar has taken up a suo motu PIL based on the reportage of several Marathi newspapers regarding the acute shortage of oxygen in Marathwada region.
The bench has appointed advocate S S Bora as an Amicus Curiae (friend of the court) to assist it in the matter.
In its five-page order, the judges have noted 13 articles of various newspapers that have highlighted the plight of Covid19 positive patients and of their families.
The judges have noted that the kin of those died due to Covid are being made to run from pillar to post just to get a certificate so that their last rites could be performed. The bench has further taken into account the news reports that have highlighted the fact that the families of Covid patients in Marathwada region are being made to cough up heavy amounts such as Rs 37,000 Rs 22,000 for per vial of Remdesivir injection, which is otherwise available between Rs 850 to Rs 2,500.
Further, the bench has taken cognizance of instances wherein nurses, MLA's etc are selling Remdesivir at exorbitant rates to the common man. Also, the instances of people coming down on the streets to fetch oxygen for their Covid patients admitted in the hospital have been considered.
The bench has accordingly made the Divisional Commissioner, Aurangabad, the Commissioner of Police, the District Collectors of districts amenable to the jurisdiction of Aurangabad bench of HC, the Commissioners/Administrators of the Municipal Corporations and the District Superintendents of Police of such districts as the respondents to the PIL.
Apart from these, the bench has also issued notice to the Secretary of the Public Health Department and the Secretary of the Food and Drugs Department of the state, to respond to the PIL.
Upon being informed, the bench even issued notice to the Union government for it is responsible for the distribution of oxygen and Remdesivir among all the states across India.
Notably, the bench led by Justice Sunil Shukre had taken cognizance of the shortages of Remdesivir and Oxygen in Nagpur district and the Vidharbha region in the state and had taken up a suo motu PIL on the same. The bench is presently monitoring the entire issue.
At the principal seat in Bombay, a bench led by Justice Nitin Jamdar had taken up suo motu PIL regarding the surge of Covid cases within jails across the state. This PIL was taken up on the basis of the reportage of Free Press Journal and Hindustan Times regarding the hike of cases in prisons. The matter was later heard by a bench led by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta.