New Delhi | The Supreme Court on Friday criticised the Uttar Pradesh government in connection with a case, where an 82-year-old Covid patient allegedly went missing from a hospital in Prayagraj.
A bench, headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana queried the Additional Advocate General (AAG) representing Uttar Pradesh, as to how could the man go missing, as his oxygen level was low and he was also unable to walk.
The bench, also comprising Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli, said: “It has been one year he’s been missing. Imagine the family’s desperation. Look at the agony of family.”
The AAG submitted that the state has not left any stone unturned to trace the man and deployed all resources to find him, yet he is untraceable. As the bench further queried if the state government looked for his body, counsel replied that authorities concerned have checked all cremation centres in Prayagraj.
At this, Justice Murari remarked: “Means, he vanished in the air?”
Counsel replied that the incident took place during the peak of the second Covid wave. She added that the Allahabad High Court has asked to produce the corpse, but in a missing person case, it is not possible.
Counsel further elaborated that the authorities have even put-up coloured posters and ran information regarding the missing person on TV and radio, however the high court has summoned 8 officers, including the Chief Secretary.
The bench then queried, how much compensation will the state government pay?
“We are in your hands. He was 82 years old. He was a junior engineer in Kaushambi,” said the counsel, adding that FSL is still examining the CCTV footage.
During the hearing, the bench told the counsel: “You don’t comply with directions, last minute when contempt is sought you come.”
A habeas corpus petition was filed by the person’s son before the Allahabad High Court seeking his father’s release from the hospital’s custody. In April, the high court directed the state government officials to produce the man before the court on May 6, failing which, the state officers were to remain personally present before it. The Uttar Pradesh government moved the top court challenging this order.
The top court issued notice in the matter and stayed further proceedings before the high court. It also directed the state to pay an amount of Rs 50,000 to the respondents as an initial amount to cover the litigation expenses.
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