Centre responsible if faulty PM-CARES ventilators cause death: Bombay HC
The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court has said that the central government would be responsible for any loss of life due to "defective" ventilators supplied by a Gujarat company to the Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) through the PM-CARES fund. The court directed the Centre to ensure that the defective ventilators are replaced before the GMCH can use them.
133 of 150 ventilators provided to GMCH were faulty
A bench of Justices RV Ghuge and BU Debadwar on Wednesday heard a suo motu PIL on COVID-19 management. The matter pertains to the provision of 150 ventilators to the GMCH at Aurangabad in April under the PM-CARES fund, out of which, 133 were found to be defective. The ventilators had been supplied by Rajkot-based Jyoti CNC.
'If ventilators cause death, government will have to take responsibility'
While dictating the order, Justice Ghuge said they might direct the return of defective ventilators, if required. Justice Ghuge said the court will not risk a health hazard by permitting the use of ventilators that have undergone major repairs. "If unfortunately, the use of such ventilators results in the loss of life, it will be the (government) which will have to take the responsibility."
Centre objected to court's observations
However, after the bench finished dictating the order, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh pleaded to strike the aforementioned statement from its order till the next date, LiveLaw reported. The observation on the Centre taking responsibility for any death does not form part of the order.
We don't want to blame anyone: Centre
The HC had previously made harsh remarks against the Centre, blaming its "insensitivity" after it attempted to shift the onus from Jyoti CNC to doctors. ASG Singh said Thursday, "We don't want to blame anyone or fight on this issue; ultimately, we are all we are working together and want to resolve the issue," assuring the court that the matter will be looked into.
Committee appointed to look into matter
The ASG said a committee of two "very senior doctors" (one from Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital and another from Safdurjung Hospital), an eight-member technical team, and others, was appointed to inspect the matter and make the ventilators functional. "We have already written to the state government that if it requires replacement, we will try to replace it. If the defect is such," he added.
Ventilators suffered breakdowns despite repairs
A meeting was held at GMCH, Aurangabad, on May 29 regarding the ventilators. It was discussed that the commissioned ventilators had suffered a continuous breakdown despite repairs. There were issues with desaturation, water drainage, user interface, and oxygen sensor. Notably, 269 hospital personnel were trained to operate the ventilators. The hospital had training material/user manuals at the time of deployment of the ventilators.