In a setback to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi, the Supreme Court has imposed a fine of Rs. 25,000 on the state health minister Satyendra Jain. The cost was imposed by a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and D.Y. Chandrachud for the government’s failure to file an affidavit giving details of officials not cooperating in the efforts to contain dengue and chikungunya diseases resulting in many deaths on a yearly basis, especially during the mosquito breeding seasons. “People are dying …. You don’t even need 24 hours to file an affidavit”, the Apex Bench observed in a caustic remark.
The Bench was not ready to give more time to the counsel for the Delhi government even to file an affidavit, as the Delhi government itself during the last hearing alleged that there were certain officials who were not cooperating with the efforts to contain the dreaded diseases. At that, the court said that the government should file an affidavit with the names of such officers so that proper action could be formulated.
It asked the state government also to detail the “efforts” being made in tackling the menace of dengue and chikungunya. Even the help lines were flooded with calls in various hospitals and it was reported that several hospitals ran out of beds and other facilities as the number of patients swelled.
The court further chided the AAP government observing “when you make tall claims you must live up to it”. The matter has been taken suo-motu (on its own motion) by the Apex Court after reports of parents of a child committed suicide due to the death of their son allegedly not treated by a hospital. The matter was taken up way back in 2015. However, the Delhi government did not even care to file an affidavit.
Earlier in an Affidavit, Satyendra Jain had stated that “officials were not cooperating to curb the diseases” at which the Apex Court had ordered for a fresh affidavit detailing such officials. The elected AAP government is already in a bloody power struggle with the Lt. Governor on one up man ship. The Delhi High Court in a case had earlier upheld the powers of the Lt. Governor. Jain had stated that the officials were sending the files relating to the diseases to the LG for clearance which, he said, was “non-cooperation”.
The Apex Court order for a fresh affidavit had come on September 26. The Apex Court also refused to file the affidavit in a sealed cover observing “since you have made the allegation on the affidavit (earlier) the names and evidence relating to the (non-cooperating) officials should not be filed in sealed covers”.
Senior Counsel Ajit Sinha appeared for the LG and refuted the Delhi government charge that officials were not cooperating with the government as alleged by the Health Minister. This also exposed the tug-of-war between the Delhi government and the LG. Jain is already in a controversy over alleged income tax violations and the income tax department has already summoned him to appear before it on October 4. He allegedly has some investments in four companies. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal came to Jain’s defence contending that it was a “frame-up”.