Shimla, January 7
The HP High Court today permitted the state to open new OPD block/trauma ward at the IGMC, Shimla, on purely humanitarian consideration, solely for the purpose of patients of Covid-19.
While passing this interim order, a division bench comprising Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Justice Satyen Vaidya observed that “In view of the gravity of Covid-19, more particularly its variant omicron, that is spreading widely in the entire country, we deem it proper to permit the petitioner state to open new OPD block/trauma ward at IGMC, Shimla, on purely humanitarian consideration, solely for the purpose of patients of Covid-19.”
The court further clarified that “this order is being passed taking into consideration the exigencies of the prevalent conditions and shall not be construed to be conferring any kind of right upon the petitioner state or any other person or authority and this order shall otherwise also not be treated or cited as a precedent, till and so long, the issue of jurisdiction is not decided.”
The court also issued notice to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest on a petition filed by the state government challenging the decision of the Supervisory Committee (constituted by the NGT for granting approval for such projects), whereby it had advised the state department to approach the National Green Tribunal for further approval/sanction of the new OPD block, including trauma ward at the IGMC.
During the course of hearing the senior counsel for the state government, Vinay Kuthiala contended in the petition that the state government has a statutory duty and obligation under the HP Town and Country Planning Act as well as the HP Municipal Corporation Act. On account of the order of the NGT it is unable to perform its statutory and constitutional duties.
It was further alleged that the NGT had exceeded its jurisdiction while passing the aforesaid order. It was further contended that the NGT did not have the jurisdiction to pass orders in matters which do not fall within the purview of the forest, water and the environment-related enactments.