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Pvt hospitals run like business enterprises, must arrange own security

It is not for the Centre or state governments to provide security to private hospitals and medical centres which function as “business enterprises”, the Supreme Court said on Monday as it refused to issue generic directives to prevent attacks on doctors and healthcare workers.

“How is the government to provide for private hospitals? Private hospitals charge exorbitantly. They must take care of their own security… You can’t expect the government to put in place a security system for private players,” said a bench of justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and AS Oka.

The court was hearing a petition by the Delhi Medical Association (DMA), which sought directions to ensure adequate security at hospitals and medical centres to prevent attacks on doctors and healthcare workers by relatives of patients and others.

The petition, filed through advocate Sneha Kalita, said there was an increase in the number of such assaults and verbal abuse, and “extreme incidents of public lynching”, warranting suitable guidelines and holistic measures in place for the safety of healthcare professionals and their workplaces.

Arguing for DMA, senior advocate Vijay Hansaria tried to persuade the court about the necessity of a mechanism but the bench noted that not only statistics and other details regarding complaints and representations made to the states concerned were not part of the petition but also that the demand for security at private hospitals was improper.

“How can we micromanage security? Can the Supreme Court decide which hospital and which medical centre should be given what kind of security? Every lane in all big cities will have a medical centre. How are we going to pass generic orders? You cannot dump everything on this court,” the bench told Hansaria.

It further commented: “Can we lay down any judicial norm on such a subject? Every hospital has a system of security. Whenever an incident happens, it happens because of a certain failure in the system. Doctors are attacked and we are saying that’s unfortunate. But can this court check the security apparatus in each and every hospital?”

The bench added that aspects of providing security to a government hospital is again an executive decision and it is not for the court to either assess the threat perception or order such assessments.

“We are not going to step into an arena which is an executive domain. You have mixed up everything. Who will give money for the security? We are not going to pass an order that governments should provide security for private hospitals. They are business enterprises,” it said.

At this, Hansaria requested the bench to let him amend the petition and also add more particulars about the incidents and the complaints made. The court allowed DMA to come back after amending its petition. Hindustan Times

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