Supreme Court blasts UP govt: ‘You act only when facing contempt’

“It is the habit of your state," CJI N V Ramana said while hearing a case related to disappearance of an 82-year-old covid patient from a hospital in Uttar Pradesh last year

SC

The Supreme Court on Friday rebuked the Uttar Pradesh government, saying it tended not to comply with court orders until a contempt petition was filed. “You don’t comply with our directions. Only in the last minute when somebody files a contempt you come here,” Chief Justice N V Ramana told additional advocate-general Garima Prashad appearing for the state of Uttar Pradesh. “It is the habit of your state!” the Chief Justice further added.

Justice Ramana, heading a bench that included Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli, did not specify the cases that had prompted the oral observation.

Missing covid patient

The apex court made these remarks while hearing a case related to the disappearance in May last year of an 82-year-old Covid patient from a hospital in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh. Ram Lal Yadav had been admitted to the TB Sapru Hospital on May 6 last year with Covid-related complications and disappeared on May 8 after being shifted to the trauma centre with low oxygen levels.

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The petition was filed by the patient’s son, Rahul Yadav, before the Allahabad High Court seeking his release from the hospital’s custody.

The HC had on April 25 directed state officials to produce the man before the Court on May 6, failing which state officers were to remain present themselves before the court. Aggrieved, the state government and eight officials moved the Supreme Court, asking how they were expected to produce a man who has been missing for over a year.

“How can he be missing? His oxygen level was 82. He was unable to walk! He was in a hospital!” the court asked the state government’s lawyers. Justice Hima Kohli asked the state to consider the agony of the man’s family. “It has been a year since he has been missing. Imagine the family’s desperation,” Justice Kohli observed.

The apex court on Friday stayed the high court order.

State helpless

The state has argued that the tragic incident happened during the peak days of the pandemic when hospital resources were stretched and medical personnel were working under stress. It said efforts were on to trace the man, including the formation of special investigation teams and outreach through media and the Internet.

The bench directed the state government to pay Rs 50,000 as interim legal expenses to the family of the missing 82-year-old covid patient so that the family can be made to appear before the top court from the next hearing.

Also read: Nobody can be forced to get COVID-19 jab: Supreme Court

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