Days after a special bench of the Gujarat High Court made scathing criticism on the state’s BJP government for its inept handling of the COVID-19 crisis, the bench has abruptly been changed. In its order, Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court Vikram Nath has now replaced the bench comprising Justices JB Pardiwala and Justice IJ Vora with a new bench comprising himself and Justice JB Pardiwala.
The court had also taken on its record an anonymous report by a medical officer listing out 22 problem areas in Civil Hospital as well as an anonymous letter by a resident doctor of Civil Hospital, highlighting the dire conditions.
Following the 143-page order, the state government on May 25 had moved a civil application on urgent priority, with Chief Justice Vikram Nath’s endorsement for urgent hearing the same day. The application had “endeavored” to clarify that the condition of Civil Hospital “was not as pathetic” as the high court observed in its May 22 order. However, Justice Pardiwala’s bench had said “it was too early to give a final certificate” and had said that the bench will visit the civil hospital “one fine morning” and put an end to all controversy.
Subsequently, from May 11 to May 15, May 18 to May 22, as well as from May 25 until May 28, a division bench of Justices Pardiwala and Vora was functioning, conducting four hearings of the said PIL. The new roster for Friday now includes two division benches, one headed by the Chief Justice along with Justice Pardiwala while another bench will be headed by Justice R M Chhaya, along with Justice Ilesh Vora.