Kolkata, Sep 30 (PTI) The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday expressed faith that the West Bengal government will lift its ban on use of cell phones in two hospitals earmarked for COVID-19 patients, noting that restrictions have been eased in most other medical institutions of the state.
Disposing of four pleas that challenged the decision of the state to ban mobile phones on government hospital premises, the division bench observed that conducting a post- mortem of the state's decision would serve no useful purpose.
The state had in April prohibited the use of cell phones in government hospitals, especially the ones designated for COVID-19 patients, contending that phone surfaces could be carriers of novel coronavirus.
It, however, lifted the prohibition in some of the facilities in the subsequent months, barring two -- M R Bangur Hospital and Calcutta Medical College and Hospital.
The petitioners said that the decision to ban the use of cell phones in hospitals was arbitrary and without any basis, and no other state has taken a similar measure.
They also said that cell phones are the only means of communication between a patient in an isolation ward and his or her family members, and the ban was adding to anxieties.
Advocate General Kishore Dutta, appearing for the state government, submitted that the decision was taken in the best interest of the Covid-19 patients, doctors and everybody else physically present on the hospital premises.
The court noted that 'while it is true that there is no conclusive evidence that mobile phones are potential carriers of the virus, it is equally true that there is no conclusive evidence that mobile phones cannot be potential carriers of coronavirus.
'Under those circumstances, we cannot say that it was wholly unreasonable, imprudent or arbitrary on the part of the state administration to impose ban on use of mobile phones inside hospitals which were treating COVID-19 patients.' The state government should follow any directive or advisory issued in this regard by the appropriate department of the central government, the bench said.
The court lso said that it was 'not quite impressed' by Advocate General Kishore Dutta's submission that two state-run hospitals - M R Bangur Hospital and Calcutta Medical College Hospital -- have more critical patients in comparison to other facilities.
'It is not quite acceptable that all the other hospitals are treating less critical patients than the aforesaid two hospitals,' the bench observed.
The court expressed hope that the appropriate sector of the state administration shall revise and reassess the situation in the two hospitals and, unless there are very compelling reasons, the ban on use of mobile phones in these two medical institutions will be lifted. PTI AMR RMS RMS