MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday directed the Central government to explain steps taken by the Railways to convert train coaches into COVID-19 isolation or quarantine centres and if ICU facilities can also be made available in them.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice M S Karnik was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Mumbai resident Naresh Kapoor raising concerns about measures taken to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The Union of India shall file an affidavit indicating the steps taken by the Western Railway as well as the Central Railway to convert coaches into isolation/quarantine centres and why ICU facilities in coaches is not considered necessary," the court said.
The bench has posted the matter for further hearing on July 2.
The petitioner had sought for hospitals, nursing homes and dispensaries, which are closed due to departmental orders or judicial orders, to be reopened to meet the present medical needs and for railway coaches to be converted into makeshift ICUs for COVID-19 patients.
The court, however, observed that it would not be appropriate for the judiciary to interfere in the matter of reopening nursing homes and dispensaries that have been ordered to shut.
The bench said while hearing other similar petitions on COVID-19 treatment, it had noticed that facilities for treating COVID-19 as well as non-COVID-19 patients were not that insufficient so as to call for the reopening of closed hospitals.
"If the situation demands, the state government and civic bodies, keeping in mind the medical protocol required at the moment, may explore ways and means to make more facilities available at its disposal other than reopening such closed facilities," the court said.