HC inclined to order judicial probe into COVID-19 deaths in Chamarajanagar

Taking note of the death of 23 COVID-19 patients at the Chamarajanagar district hospital and of one patient at a private hospital, allegedly due to shortage in supply of oxygen, the High Court of Karnataka on Tuesday indicated to the State government that it was in favour of ordering a judicial probe into the incident.

The court directed the government to submit the SOP/guidelines being followed to allocate oxygen to hospitals in various cities and districts.

A Special Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Aravind Kumar passed the order while hearing a batch of PIL petitions on issues related to COVID-19.

Though the petitions were posted for hearing on Wednesday, the Bench advanced the hearing to Tuesday by taking cognisance of the death of 24 patients in Chamarajanagar and of a few patients in Kalaburagi, allegedly due to shortage of oxygen.

The Bench indicated in its order that it was inclined to appoint a retired judge of the High Court to conduct an inquiry into the matter.

Earlier, Advocate-General Prabhuling K. Navadgi told the Bench that the government had appointed a senior IAS officer to conduct a preliminary inquiry and the report was expected by Thursday. The government plans to order further inquiry based on it.

He also said that 14 patients in Chamarajanagar died between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Sunday, three patients between 11 p.m. on Sunday and 2.30 a.m. on Monday, and the remaining seven between 2.30 a.m. and 9 a.m. on Monday, as per the report received from the district hospital.

Though he said the State government per se had no objection to ordering a judicial probe into the incidents, he expressed apprehension that such an inquiry might impact the machinery at the ground level engaged in the fight against COVID-19.


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