The Bombay high court (HC) has asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and state government to respond to the allegations made in the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Bharatiya Janata Party’s member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) Ashish Shelar. The PIL has claimed that the tender floated by the BMC on August 21, 2020, for procuring medicines and disinfectants for the hospital run by the civic authority did not align with the stipulations of World Health Organisation and the central health authorities. The PIL has also alleged that the quality standards of the required items mentioned in the tender have been compromised to benefit the vested interests of bidders, hence the HC should stay the ongoing tendering process. The affidavits in reply to the allegations made by Shelar in the PIL have to be filed within two weeks.
The division bench of chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice Girish Kulkarni, while hearing the PIL was informed by advocate Deepa Chavan appearing for Shelar, that the ongoing fight to contain the Covid-19 and treat patients, had given rise to hospital-acquired infections (HAI) among the hospital staff as well as patients admitted in the hospital run by the civic authority.
The petition stated that one of the reasons for the incidence of HAI was the skewed public procurement process which is aimed at favouring certain manufacturers by diluting the standards in respect of the eligibility/prequalifying criteria. The PIL has claimed that due to the skewed process the health and safety of common people particularly the economically disadvantaged sections of the society was compromised and even though Shelar had given suggestions to address the issue of procuring best possible medicines and disinfectants through a transparent, fair and properly regulated process, it went unheeded and hence the PIL.
The PIL has sought directions to the state and BMC to adhere to the specifications and standard operating procedures evolved by the Infection Control Committee of Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER), in October 2019 and also incorporate the specifications evolved and procure medicines, antiseptics, disinfectants as per the rate contract for antiseptic and disinfectants evolved by the Haffkine Biopharmaceuticals, State of Maharashtra in March 2019.
The PIL has further prayed that as the specifications have been flouted in the tender floated by the BMC on August 21, 2020, the tendering process should be stayed and all future purchases of all medical supplies including medicines, antiseptics, disinfectants and other medical equipment be directed to strictly adhere to and follow all stipulations for procurement thereof, in compliance with the Central Vigilance Committee (CVC) guidelines.
After hearing the submissions, the court directed the BMC to respond to the allegations made by the petitioner within two weeks.
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