Chandigarh, August 4: The Punjab and Haryana high court has asked the Centre to examine whether refurbished used ventilators procured by a Punjab firm can be put to use.

“We prime facie feel that in case, the aforesaid ventilators are put to use, it may be of help to some serious patients. A copy of the report be supplied to Mr Jain (additional solicitor general, Satya Pal Jain) to enable him to seek instructions, particularly, since it is a matter of saving lives of critical patients,” the bench of Justice Rajan Gupta and Justice Karamjit Singh said while acting on an expert panel report on use of these ventilators, Hindustan Times reported.

The court has acted on a plea of SB Medical Systems, a Punjab firm, which had approached high court in June, after its consignment of 32 used ventilators imported from United States of America, was not released by customs authorities.

The firm had argued that soon after Covid-19 outbreak, the Centre had allowed the import of used ventilators following which the firm placed an order. They said they had also sought necessary approval from the state and the central governments. 

However, by the time the consignment came, the Centre withdrew the notification, the court was told. It was further stated that the Kerala and Karnataka governments had already allowed use of these ventilators and it was only in this case that the consignment was not being released. The government, during the hearing had expressed its reservation on the efficacy of the ventilators.

Acting on the plea, the high court on July 15 had sought an expert opinion of doctors’, which, in its report on Tuesday, opined that the “32 used ventilators are of reputed brands and were found to be in working condition. However, they may be put to use subject to certification of disinfection, effectiveness and assured maintenance by the refurbished company.” The panel was headed by director, department of medical education and research, Punjab, Dr Avnish Kumar.

Besides directions to Centre, the court has also asked Punjab government’s counsel as to which authority can certify regarding disinfection and effectiveness. Meanwhile, the firm too has been asked to submit a certificate of disinfecting the ventilators and assuring the effectiveness and maintenance. The matter will come up for further hearing on August 10.

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