Provide 10,000 vials of Remdesivir to Nagpur: Bombay HC to Maha Gov’t

The court has observed that the Covid situation is grave, with no adequate beds, oxygen supply, drugs, medical staff available


The Bombay High Court (Nagpur Bench) has directed the Maharashtra Government to provide 10,000 vials of Remdesivir, an antiviral drug used to treat Covid patients to hospitals in Nagpur, by 8 P.M, on April 19, reported LiveLaw.

The Division Bench of Justices SM Modak and SB Shukre were hearing a suo motu PIL initiated last year to take stock of the coronavirus situation in Maharashtra. It noted that, “There has been a disparity in the distribution of Remdesivir amongst various districts in and around Nagpur, and the drugs aren’t released in proportion to the requirement, but perhaps by considering factors which may not be relevant to the whole issue.”

The Bench has directed the Commissioner of Police, Nagpur, to identify areas where law and order problems could arise due to non-availability of drugs like, outside hospitals or supply centres for oxygen, and provide protection accordingly.

As per a LiveLaw report, the Bench ordered the State and the Nagpur Municipal Commissioner (NMC) to immediately grant necessary permissions to private hospitals, which are interested in setting up oxygen generation units. On April 13, while hearing the matter, the High Court had recorded in its order that the “State Government has, in principle, accepted the proposal regarding setting up of an oxygen plant / factory at Nagpur. It is stated that the Government is considering setting up of such plants also at some other places in the State of Maharashtra, and for that purpose, the Chief Secretary, Government of Maharashtra has convened an official meeting on 15/04/2021.”

Advocate Tushar Mandelker (appearing for the intervenor Dr. Shishir Kolhe) alleged the ‘discriminatory practice’ by pointing out that on April 16, the Thane Collector provided 5,328 vials of Remdesivir, against 2,664 Covid beds in the district, while merely 3,326 vials were provided by Nagpur’s Collector on the same day despite 8,250 Covid designated beds.

The Bench then noted in its order, “The State Committee must ensure a fair and proportionate distribution of Remdesivir vials by following the principle that where the requirement is higher, the supply shall also be higher…Covid scenario has turned to its worst ever and the situation is of gravest order, so much so that there are no beds available, there are no lifesaving drugs available in sufficient quantity, that there isn’t sufficient supply of oxygen and there is also dearth of medical and paramedical staff”, reported LiveLaw.  

The court also reportedly observed that the statistic shows “some arbitrariness in the district-wise distribution of Remdesivir vials by the State and this is required to be stopped forthwith.”

The court observed that on April 17, only 500 vials of Remdesivir were allocated and on two other dates, nothing was given. It was informed that denial of vials to so many patients in 117 hospitals across Nagpur has severely affected the management of covid patients and in some cases, the possibility of death due to non-availability of drugs could not be ruled out.

The High Court Bench referred to Pt. Parmanand Katara vs Union of India & Ors (1989), to state that every doctor at the government hospital positioned is duty-bound to give medical assistance and no law can allow to avoid and delay the discharge of such duty cast upon the professional and that under Article 21, the state is obligated to preserve life.

Another intervenor in the PIL, Dr. Mukesh Chandak had informed the court on April 15 that patients were also facing difficulty in getting RTCPR tests. According to the applicant/intervener, the delay in getting the reports by the patients is because “the laboratories are not giving the reports unless the reports are uploaded on the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) portal and sometimes the server is slow, which results in delay in uploading of the reports.”

The Bench of Justices Z.A Haq and Amit Borkar held that test results should be made available to patients immediately on WhatsApp and a positive report must be uploaded on the ICMR website within 24 hours.

It said, “We direct that after making the reports available to the patients on WhatsApp as also hard copy of it, the reports of the patients, who test positive shall be uploaded on the ICMR portal within 24 hours and the reports of the patients who test negative should be uploaded on the ICMR portal within 7 days and if these directions are not complied with by the laboratories, the authorities will be free to take appropriate action against the concerned laboratories, as deemed fit by the concerned authority.”

It was also brought to the court’s attention that several Covid-19 patients have been standing outside hospitals waiting to be admitted, causing their health to deteriorate. As per a LiveLaw report, the court has directed the Nagpur Collector and Nagpur Municipal Commissioner to set up temporary healthcare facilities. It said, “We had referred to setting up a day-care Centre in February. NMC commissioner suggested directions for setting up Covid Care Centres with ICMR guidelines.” In the meantime, the court suggested that pandals should be constructed to provide them drinking water facilities as a temporary relief measure.

The matter will be heard on April 21.

The order dated April 15 may be read here: 


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