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Oxygen notice: Lucknow hospital slapped with FIR, says will move Allahabad HC

The Indian Express logo The Indian Express 06-05-2021 Asad Rehman
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CLOSE TO midnight on Wednesday, the Lucknow administration filed an FIR against a city hospital accusing it of spreading "false rumours" over shortage of oxygen. On Thursday, the hospital administration, which had put up a notice on May 3 asking relatives to take away patients as it was facing oxygen shortage, said it would move the Allahabad High Court over the FIR.

Sun Hospital, located in Lucknow's Gomti Nagar area, was declared a Covid facility around a month ago. On May 3, the 45-bed hospital had 38 patients, with the hospital claiming all were on oxygen support at the time. On Thursday, it had 28 Covid patients, with 20 on oxygen support.

The FIR, filed at 11.30 pm on Wednesday, came a day after the Allahabad High Court, during a hearing, called deaths due to lack of oxygen a "genocide" and mentioned the notice put up by Sun Hospital.

Refuting police allegations of spreading rumours, Sun Hospital's Akhilesh Pandey said, “I want the administration to come and talk to caregivers about what happened on May 3. I am filing a writ petition in the Allahabad High Court challenging the action." While Pandey said he was a manager with the hospital, police said he was one of the directors.

Pandey also claimed that the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (Sadar) Praful Tripathi had put pressure on him. "I have a video with the audio of SDM sahib making me write things in return for helping me. Now, they have issued a notice to me," Pandey said.

He said he was approaching the court for anticipatory bail and to seek a fair investigation into the issue.

While the SDM could not be contacted, he had earlier claimed to have conducted a preliminary inquiry and found that against 20 Covid patients on oxygen support, the hospital had eight jumbo cylinders filled with oxygen, and two B-type oxygen cylinders and concentrators.

The complaint by the district administration reads, “Despite orders from Lucknow district administration and government for not spreading rumours of Oxygen shortage, a notice was circulated on social media asking (caregivers) of patients to withdraw patients who were on oxygen support from the hospital... In the probe done by administration, it was found that eight jumbo cylinders and two B-type cylinders and concentrators were available with the hospital." The administration said this was "sufficient oxygen”.

However, Pandey said, the hospital needs to maintain a back-up. "Despite requests, no one assured me about oxygen supply. The administration kept saying no when asked about oxygen. The Drug Inspector told me how he could give me oxygen cylinders when there was none available anywhere in Lucknow. I issued the notice because I didn’t want anyone to die at my hospital, and to ensure that if someone could go elsewhere, they could have done so.”

On the basis of the administration's complaint, the FIR was lodged against the hospital, naming Pandey, at the Vibhuti Khand Police Station. Officials said other names will be added following the probe. “For now, we have lodged a case against Akhilesh Pandey. We have been told Akhilesh is a partner and there is another director,” said Vibhuti Khand SHO Chandra Shekhar Singh.

The FIR has been lodged under Sections of the Disaster Management Act and Epidemic Diseases Act and IPC Sections 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life).

At a hearing on Covid-19 issues on May 4, the Allahabad High Court had said deaths of patients due to lack of oxygen supply “is a criminal act and not less than a genocide by those who have been entrusted the task to ensure continuous procurement and supply chain of the liquid medical oxygen”.

The court had also asked Meerut and Lucknow district magistrates to verify news of deaths of patients in the ICU of a new trauma centre at Meerut Medical College and reports of two hospitals, one each in Meerut and Lucknow (Sun Hospital), telling relatives to take away patients due to shortage of oxygen.

Earlier, hearing a PIL on the Covid situation, the High Court had said “those in power must shun the attitude of ‘my way or no way’ and should welcome suggestions from all the quarters”.This came days after Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath warned of action against hospitals if they "falsely" reported oxygen shortage.

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