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Delhi Govt Withdraws Order on Turning Ashoka Hotel Into COVID Facility

The proposed facility had created controversy because it was supposed to be meant only for Delhi high court judges, judicial officer and their families.
Ashoka Hotel. Photo: ITDC website

New Delhi: The Delhi government has withdrawn the controversial order it issued by to create a 100-bed COVID-19 facility in Ashoka Hotel for Delhi high court judges, judicial officers and their families. The move came after a high court bench on Tuesday denied that a request for such a facility was made by the court and pulled up the Delhi government saying, “This is very very misleading. (The) High Court has not made any such request for allocation of any beds in five-star hospitals of this kind. There is absolutely no communication in this regard.”

The Wire had earlier reported how the Delhi government had sought to create a special COVID-19 healthcare facility in a five-star hotel exclusively for Delhi high court judges, judicial officers and their families at a time when people elsewhere are struggling to find hospital beds or oxygen for their dying relatives.

During the hearing in the matter, the bench of Justice Vipin Sandhi and Rekha Palli stated that no request had been made by the Delhi high court to set up a facility of the kind that was being created. Taking suo motu cognisance of the media coverage on the issue, the bench noted that in her order passed on April 25, sub-divisional magistrate of Chanakyapuri, Geeta Grover, had recorded that “request has been made by the Delhi High Court for setting up a facility”.

The bench clarified that, “no such request was made by us that set up a facility at this hotel or that hotels. The purpose of meeting was that judiciary, particularly subordinate judiciary have to go to courts, have been infected and their families have been infected. We have already lost two judicial officers.”

In light of this, the court said, “All that we wanted was, in case they need admission, there may be some facility available. And that has been converted to such an order.”

Justice Palli said it was unfortunate that when “you don’t have oxygen, and you are talking about having 100 beds facility for us”.

Also read: This Delhi Hospital Had to Struggle for Oxygen Even After 20 Patients Died for Lack of It

Justice Sanghi further pulled up the Delhi government for only doing its job on paper and not being serious about anything. “The problem is you are passing orders left right and centre without actually bothering or meaning to do anything about it. Like you say you are making a facility when we didn’t even ask for it, and you are passing an order and attaching to so and so hospital which has no manpower, doctors, oxygen, no equipment or ventilators, etc. But you have done your job on paper,” he observed.

The bench also noted that what appeared from the order was that either the court has taken the matter to benefit itself or the Government has done it to appease it.  It said, “It’s unthinkable that we as an institution will want any preferential treatment.”

Following the scathing observations and remarks of the bench, which also demanded that “corrective steps be taken, and this kind of order be withdrawn, or else the Court will quash it”, the Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia issued a tweet saying the order was being withdrawn with immediate effect.

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