Delhi HC hearing plea to get him ICU bed, man dies in wait

Attending the proceedings from his car, he would "beg" before the court for an ICU bed for his brother-in-law, Atul Kumar Sharma.

For the past three days, lawyer Amit Sharma would regularly interrupt the hearing of cases related to Covid-19 situation in the capital before the Delhi High Court. Attending the proceedings from his car, he would “beg” before the court for an ICU bed for his brother-in-law, Atul Kumar Sharma. On Friday, he told the court that no more efforts should be made – Atul was no more.

Atul (50) developed symptoms of Covid on April 20 – a mild fever and cough. Unable to get tested, he started taking medication on the advice of a doctor. “The fever vanished after two days and he felt everything was okay. But then his oxygen level dropped to 87. We somehow arranged a cylinder and then a concentrator from a person we knew, but his condition continued to deteriorate and oxygen level slipped to 70,” Amit told The Indian Express.

With his oxygen levels continuing to dip, on April 26, the family arranged an ambulance – which had only one hour of oxygen backup – from Gurgaon and took him to Maharaja Agrasen Hospital. He was given an oxygen cylinder there but he didn’t show any signs of improvement.

With no ICU vacant at the hospital or anywhere else, Amit approached the High Court seeking its intervention. The court on Thursday orally asked lawyers to provide whatever assistance possible to him, but their efforts were in vain.

Atul, who had a water supply business in Rohini, is survived by his wife and 17-year-old daughter. “When top lawyers of Delhi can’t arrange an ICU bed, how can one expect a common man to arrange one,” said Amit, who also has symptoms of Covid.

Refraining from passing directions in cases of individuals seeking beds, the court on Thursday had said it cannot order priority as there is lack of infrastructure.

“I am simply saying I need an ICU. If we do not provide him the ICU, that means we are telling him you please go and die. I cannot say this to my sister and her daughter. What should I do? I have no other option but to beg everyone to please save the life of my brother-in-law. Just understand what I am going through,” Amit told the court on Thursday.

“The total system of the government has collapsed. You only have data about beds. By the time a person searches and chooses where to go, that bed gets filled up,” he told The Indian Express, hours after Atul’s death while the court proceedings were underway on Friday.

The court disposed of the petition seeking an ICU bed for Atul as infructuous and said it would hear the state on the aspect of compensation later.

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