Vijayawada COVID Centre Fire: SC Stays HC Ruling, Allows AP To Probe Ramesh Hospitals

 - Sakshi Post

NEW DELHI: In a significant reversal of the lower court ruling in the Ramesh Hospitals fire that killed 10 COVID-19 patients in Vijayawada recently, the Supreme Court on Monday allowed the Andhra Pradesh government to conduct a probe into the hospital blaze. The apex court annulled the directions given by the Andhra Pradesh High Court, prohibiting the state police from conducting a detailed investigation into the incident and initiate action against those responsible for it.

While giving its go-ahead, the Supreme Court made it clear that the state government can undertake an investigation into the fire accident, which took place in Hotel Swarna Palace that was turned into a make-shift COVID-19 treatment centre by the Ramesh Hospitals in Vijayawada. The Supreme Court has issued stay orders to this effect on the recent directions of the Andhra Pradesh High Court.

A bench headed by Justice Nariman on Monday took up for hearing the petition filed by the Andhra Pradesh government seeking a stay on the AP HC orders in this regard. Presenting the arguments on behalf of the Andhra Pradesh government, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi contended that it is not appropriate to unilaterally impose curbs on an investigation into the fire mishap. He said that 10 coronavirus patients lost their lives in the fire due to the gross negligence of Ramesh Hospitals.

He also brought to the notice of apex court bench that the management of the accused hospital has not been cooperating in the investigation process. He sought the Supreme Court stay on the high court’s orders to facilitate the continuation of the investigation into the case.

Concurring with the contention of the petitioner, the Supreme Court stayed the high court order, thus giving its green signal for the resumption of the probe. In a significant ruling, the apex court also said that Dr Ramesh could also be investigated in the case and asked him to extend his full cooperation to the probe.

The SC however said that the high court can decide on the issue of Dr Ramesh’s arrest in the case, based on the evidences presented before it. Dr Ramesh, the promoter of the hospitals, has been absconding in an apparent bid to evade the law since the time the fire accident, one of the worst in the history of medicare facilities, happened in Vijayawada.

In the last week of August, a single-judge Bench of the High Court granted an interim stay on all proceedings relating to the criminal case registered against Ramesh Hospitals Managing Director Dr Ramesh and Director M  Sitha  Rammohan Rao, the accused in the Swarna Palace blaze incident.

With the Supreme Court directives giving them a shot in the arm, the Andhra Pradesh police have stepped up the pace of their investigation into the case.

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