A specially constituted Division Bench of the court, comprising Justices K N Basha and N Paul Vasanthakumar on Thursday dismissed two public interest petitions against the order of the J Jayalalithaa-led government, maintaining that it was a policy decision of the government which cannot be stated to be “haste or waste”, but was rather in the interest of public.
“The said decision also cannot be stated to be arbitrary, whimsical and on the contrary, the said policy would promote and protect the interest of the public at large, more particularly, weaker sections of the society for getting better and expert treatment for serious ailments. It is made clear that the government shall take all necessary steps for giving treatment to the poor and deserving people, free of cost,” said the court.
The decision to convert the multi-crore complex, which was approved by the Assembly, was a policy decision that could not be interfered by the court, especially when there was no violation of constitutional provisions, the court observed in its final order.
There were not enough affordable specialised facilities available for the poor, downtrodden and middle class sections of the about one crore population in Chennai, noted the court. “The fact remains that as on date, there is no government hospital available in Chennai city which can be equated with AIIMS, New Delhi,” said the order.
The court had earlier prohibited any construction activity at the complex till the case was disposed of. As soon as the order was passed, construction workers and heavy machinery descended upon the premises to begin work of the proposed hospital in Block A and medical college in Block B at an estimated expenditure of about Rs 27 crore.
The Secretariat-Assembly complex was a prestige project of M Karunanidhi’s government, work on which began in June 2008. The Rs 425 crore structure was inaugurated on March 13, 2010 by PM Manmohan Singh.