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Delhi HC expresses happiness over AIIMS' decision not to charge patients using night shelter

ANI | Updated: Jul 08, 2020 22:40 IST

New Delhi [India], July 8 (ANI): The Delhi High Court has expressed its happiness with the decision of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) not to levy any charge from the patients, who were permitted to use night shelter accommodation near the hospital.

"We are happy to note that AIIMS has reconsidered its decision in view of what we had observed in our last order. AIIMS has now stated that in relation to the night shelter accommodation, it shall not levy any charge from the patients/their attendants, who are permitted to occupy the same," a Division Bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rajnish Bhatnagar said.

Earlier, AIIMS told the court that it is planning to levy charges for using night shelter with a view not to make any profit, or even to reimburse the expenses incurred by the AIIMS but for the purpose of ensuring that the Vishram Sadan facility is utilized by genuine patients and their attendants and not by others - to exploit the facility as a regular place of residence. AIIMS has taken over management of night shelter after the intervention of the court, which had noted that the night shelter, when run by Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), had lack of facilities including hygiene, drinking water, water supply for the toilets, cooking facilities, and lack of check on persons who were visiting the night shelter.

The court directed that so far as the stay at the night shelter beyond 7 plus 7 days is concerned if the treating doctor recommends further stay on account of active medical treatment of the patient then the patient and his or her attendants could be permitted to occupy the night shelter for the period in excess of 14 days.

Advocate Anand Varma, who was appearing for AIIMS stated that the patients, who have come for treatment in the OPD, is required to produce identity proof and any patient who is recommended for grant of accommodation at the night shelter, would be required to produce the same identity proof at the time of grant of accommodation. He clarified that it is not necessary for the patient and attendants to produce the BPL card.

"We are happy to note, address the concerns that we had raised in our last order. AIIMS shall remain bound by its statements made in this regard in its affidavit now filed," the court said.

Meanwhile, Varma submitted that AIIMS recognises the good work done by social worker Rachna Malik and she is welcome to render her voluntary services at the night shelter. However, he submitted that AIIMS - as an institution, cannot make exceptions and provide a table, a chair or almirah to Malik, since there are several other NGOs who are working with AIIMS, and they may also claim similar facilities.

On the other hand, Advocate Vaibhav Pratap Singh and Malik, have explained that Malik was not just rendering educational services to the patients and their attendants, but was also providing succour to the sick and terminally ill and needy patients by reading stories to them, teaching them good habits, and providing moral education to them among other services. She sought permission to use the facility in the night shelter, only till so long as she is in a position to render the said service for the incumbents of the night shelter.

Acknowledging Malik's tremendous contribution in the matter of providing facilities to the people of the night shelter, the court directed AIIMS to permit her to continue to use the facility of a table, a chair and an almirah, over which she does not claim in propriety right.
However, the court made it clear that this would not constitute a binding precedent - either for Malik or for this court since it is in exceptional circumstances.

With these directions, the court disposed of the two petitions filed one by Karan Seth and another by Rachna Malik.

The bench was hearing public interest litigation, filed by Karan Seth, which sought to address the grievance of about hundred outstation patients and their attendants, who, it is stated, were earlier being provided treatment at the AIIMS, Delhi for several ailments.
Another PIL, filed by Malik sought a direction that some arrangement should be made so that patients who are residing in rain baseras at AIIMS and had come to AIIMS to receive treatment. (ANI)