New HC Bench Constituted for COVID PIL Praises Gujarat Govt

Just over a week ago, the Gujarat High Court described the condition of the Ahmedabad Civil Hospital, a dedicated facility for COVID-19 treatment. They also made scathing comments on the manner in which the state government was handling the pandemic. On Thursday, 28 May, the chief justice had assigned a suo moto PIL and other related pleas about the coronavirus outbreak in the state to a new bench, PTI reported. The bench included himself and Justice JB Pardiwala the report said, citing a notification by HC registrar.

The new bench on 29 May said, “Our message is loud and clear… All those who cannot extend their helping hand in this difficult time… have no right to criticise the functioning of the state government. If the state government would not have been doing anything, as alleged, then probably, by now, we all would have been dead. All that we are doing in this litigation is to keep the state government conscious and active by reminding it of its constitutional and statutory obligations.”

It added, “In these extraordinary circumstances, the role of the Opposition is equally important. There is no denying that the role of the Opposition is to hold the government to account, but in times like this a helping hand would be more beneficial than a critical tongue… Merely criticising the government in power is not going to magically cure people of COVID-19, nor is it going to to make the dead come back to life… While adversarial criticism may do no good, constructive criticism can help.”

Notably, the latter judge was heading the earlier division bench that made the critical comments about the Civil Hospital. The other judge on that bench was Justice Ilesh Vora.

The Court’s Earlier Remarks On Gujarat Govt

In its observation on 22 May, the division bench comprising Justices JB Pardiwala and Ilesh Vora had said, "It is very distressing and painful to note that the condition prevailing, as on date, in the Civil Hospital, is pathetic," reported Live Law.

The court had questioned if the state government was aware that the cause of high mortality of patients was due to the lack of adequate number of ventilators.

The court also asked the health department if it was aware of the affairs of the Civil Hospital and how the state planned to tackle the problem.

In another order on 25 May, after the state government had moved an application, the bench had reportedly said it will be visiting the hospital in question.

Also Read: COVID Patient’s Body Found at Ahmedabad Bus Stand, CM Orders Probe

The division bench of Justices Pardiwala and Vora had been hearing the COVID-19-related PIL since 11 May, before which it had been taken up by a bench led by the Chief Justice as many as seven times, The Indian Express report said.

Gujarat has recorded over 15,500 cases of coronavirus so far, with 960 people dead and 8,003 patients cured or discharged.

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