Two of Ahmedabad’s top hospitals have involved themselves in a public interest litigation (PIL) on fire safety norms in buildings, including hospitals, prompting the Gujarat High Court to create a special bench to hear the matter.
The matter relates to the pleas by Zydus Hospital and Apex Heart Institute – both super specialty hospitals – who moved the HC for clarification on its 2020 orders regarding removal of glass facades in hospitals. The hospitals’ counsel, senior advocate Saurabh Soparkar, said the hospitals’ managements were worried about the orders that mandated that glass facades be removed, the staircases be fully ventilated, and the ICUs be preferably located on the ground floor. This order was passed in the wake of a fire in the ICU of Shrey Hospital in the city that killed eight people.
Now, after the hospitals’ plea, a division bench of Acting Chief Justice AJ Desai and Justice Biren Vaishnav has ordered that the matter be heard by a bench comprising Justices Ilesh Vora and Ashutosh Shastri, who were part of benches that had heard the PIL earlier.
Soparkar contended that shifting the ICUs on the ground floor was “against the basic norm of hospital” as it should be situated far away from easy access to people due to safety concerns. He further said that regular walls would block sunlight and “will bring gloominess”.
The hospitals’ move to join the PIL as parties was blocked by advocate Amit Panchal, party-in-person petitioner in the PIL, who said the application should not be maintainable.
Last year, private doctors in Gujarat went on a strike for a day, boycotting OPD and emergency procedures, in protest against the HC directions for hospitals. The state had submitted that doctors were “confused” by some of the directives, especially those pertaining to the removal of the glass facade and relocating ICUs to ground floors.