Hospitals can't deny first response treatment to crime victims: HC

After it was told that accident or rape victims were often denied treatment by private hospitals, which did not want to involve themselves in crime cases, the Delhi High Court on Thursday held that private hospitals must must not turn away emergency patients on such grounds.

The bench comprising Chief Justice D Murugesan and Justice V K Jain issued the orders while hearing a suo motu case. An NGO had previously raised the question of speedy medical aid to victims. The point was raised again by counsel assisting the court, advocate Meera Bhatia.

The court directed Delhi government Principal Secretary, Health, "to issue appropriate directions to all hospitals to attend to all persons who are in dire need of immediate first-aid (or other) medical need due to involvement in some crime".

The court also directed the Commissioner of Police to "issue instructions to all police personnel to take victims to nearest hospital for treatment".

The court also asked police to look into a system of 'SOS' or 'panic button' messages, which could be sent by women from their cellphones to any number of their choice as well as to police.

"There could be some GPS-based system for a PCR van to track the location of the mobile phone from which the SOS message was sent. You could contact NIC or Infosys or TCS to consider this software," the court said.

The court said Mumbai police was using a basic form of a similar system and asked the Delhi Police to "extend and refine" the software.

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