The Delhi High Court has directed that no proceedings be initiated against Sir Ganga Ram Hospital (SGRH) till June 22 in relation to the FIR lodged against it for allegedly violating COVID-19 regulation norms.
Justice C Hari Shankar said the ad-interim direction was being passed "to ensure status quo is not disturbed and nothing precipitates" till the court pronounces its order on June 22 on the hospital's application for stay on proceedings in relation to the FIR.
The high court said the ad-interim order of June 16 should not be seen as a reflection on merits of the case.
The hospital's main petition seeking quashing of the FIR is listed on August 11 by when the police and Delhi government have to file their replies to it.
The hospital, in its plea, has challenged the June 5 FIR lodged at Rajinder Nagar police station under section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of IPC and the proceedings initiated thereafter.
The plea has also sought to set aside the Delhi government's June 3 order, prohibiting RT/PCR sampling for COVID- 19 suspect/contact cases with immediate effect.
RT/PCR, short for Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction, is a laboratory technique widely used in the diagnosis of genetic diseases and to measure gene expression in research.
SGRH, a private hospital with 675 beds, was declared a COVID-19 facility by the Delhi government and told to reserve 80 per cent beds for coronavirus patients.
According to the FIR, the complainant is a senior official of the Delhi Health Department who has alleged that the hospital was not using RT-PCR app while collecting COVID-19 samples.
It said that as per the guidelines, it is "mandatory" for labs to collect samples through RT-PCR app.
The official has also alleged "violation" on part of the hospital in not adhering to COVID-19 regulation norms, as specified under the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897.
"The CDMO-cum-mission director central has mentioned that Sir Ganga Ram Hospital is still not using RT-PCR app even till June 3, which is a clear violation of directions issued under Epidemic Disease Covid-19 Regulation 2020 Act," the FIR said.
Seeking to streamline the testing process, the Union Health Ministry launched a dedicated RT-PCR mobile-based app for labs to fill the data at the point of sample collection.
Following the directives, the Delhi government made it mandatory for all lab collection and testing centres to download that app.
The hospital, in its petition, has claimed that the FIR was vague and does not disclose commissioning of an offence under section 188 of IPC.
"A mere disobedience of the order is not good enough to make out an offence under section 188 of IPC but the resultant obstruction, annoyance or injury or risk of obstruction, annoyance or injury to any person or for that matter cause danger to human life, health or safety or causes or tends to cause a riot or affray which makes it an offence under Section 188 of IPC.
"The FIR being silent about any such effect, the same is liable to be quashed," it has said.
Three notices were issued by the Delhi government to the hospital and the entire exercise appears to be motivated and malicious to achieve some non-bona fide and ulterior objectives, it has said.
The plea has said that on the one hand, the Delhi government in its notices said that samples of asymptomatic patients are being collected and processed for testing by the hospital, on the other hand, it says that app based collection is not happening.
"Both the stands are self contradictory in as much as the fact they know that samples of asymptomatic patients are being collected for further testing clearly shows that the respondents are fully aware of the data submitted by the petitioner," it has said.
It has added that on one hand, the Delhi government has declared the hospital as a dedicated COVID facility by earmarking 80 per cent beds for this purpose and on the other hand, they pass an order prohibiting SGRH to carry out any COVID test.