The present situation of Covid-19 Pandemic in India and response of emergency medical services has led
me to try and find out how law can help in providing emergency medical care to patients in future. We
have been witnessing how patients are being refused admission in hospitals despite advised by the
doctor to be hospitalised as they are in critical condition requiring immediate medical attention and
critical care, Thousands of persons have died due to lack of ICU beds and oxygen.
It was the utmost duty of elected government to provide medical aid to its citizens and by not providing
adequate medical aid the valuable right to life as enshrined in our constitution has been violated by
government. It is fundamental right of every citizen under Article 21 of Constitution of India, that no
person can be deprived of his life and personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.
However denying a person in need of immediate medical attention/critical care is nothing but violating
his right to life. To my mind Government is directly responsible for causing death of a person, for failure
to provide adequate medical care.
This leads us to another question, whether Indian government has created any data base of hospitals
and Nursing homes having Intensive Care Units and number of ICU beds in each of them? Whether any
survey has ever been conducted to understand how many critical care hospitals and Intensive Care beds
are required in India proportionate to population in particular states?
If answers to these questions are in affirmative, than another question arise as to what action has been
initiated by government to provide adequate intensive Care Units in each state. It is not only ICU beds
but in case of infectious disease more particularly Air borne infection such as Covid-19, ICU beds in
Negative-pressure isolation room are required. The purpose of negative-pressure room is to confine
pathogens to a single closed environment with direct exhaust of air from the room thereby preventing
the release of patient generated pathogens in to adjacent spaces.
I have not come across any national Health Care Policy implemented by Government of India.Now
coming to law on the subject of providing emergency medical care to a patient. The Hon�ble Supreme
Court of India in case titled as Pt. Paramanand Katara v/s Union of India & others,1989(4) SCC286, for
the first time dealt with the issue of providing medical care to a patient in emergency. It was held by the
apex court that medical aid to an injured person to preserve his life is the obligation of state as well as
doctors. The said case was relating to accident victims who were refused primary medical aid by
hospitals being medico-legal case.
Thereafter another landmark judgment was passed by Hon�ble Supreme Court in case titled as Paschim
Bengal Khet Mazdoor Samiti & others versus State of West Bengal & Another,1996 SCC(4)37. This was a
case where one labourer suffered brain haemorrhage after falling from train. He was taken to Primary
Health Centre, since necessary facilities for treatment were not available at the Primary health Centre,
he was referred by medical officer to nearby Government hospital for better treatment.
The injured Labourer was taken to another hospital where his X-Ray was done and was required to be
admitted immediately for treatment of skull injury. However he was not admitted in the said hospital
due to lack of bed in emergency. The injured was then taken to another hospital in Calcutta but was not
admitted due to lack of bed in hospital. Aggrieved of being denied admission in hospitals for lack of bed
and callous attitude on the part of medical authorities at the various state run hospitals, he filed writ
petition before Hon�ble Supreme Court of India.