The Karnataka government on Wednesday appointed retired High Court judge Justice B A Patil as the one-man commission to inquire into the death of 24 COVID patients in Chamarajanagar district allegedly owing to oxygen shortage. A notification regarding the appointment of Justice Patil was issued by the Additional Chief Secretary in the Home Department, Rajneesh Goel on Wednesday.
The term of reference of the Commission read, ”To inquire into the circumstances and events leading to the death of COVID-19 patients in District Hospital, Chamarajanagar on May 3, reportedly due to scarcity of oxygen and any further similar incidents, which are entrusted to the Commission of Inquiry by Government.” The office of the commission has to submit its report in one month. The notification said the officers concerned including the Deputy Commissioners of Chamarajanagar and Mysuru districts should hand over immediately all requisite documents and material evidence to the Commissioner of Health and Family Welfare Department for onward submission to the Inquiry Commission.
The order came following the directions of the Karnataka High Court, which had taken a serious note of the deaths in Chamarajanagar and recommended a judicial inquiry. The state government had previously appointed IAS officer Shivayogi Kalasad, the managing director of the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation, as an investigating officer to probe the matter within three days.
The state Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar had maintained that only three deaths took place due to shortage of oxygen and not 24 as has been reported. The opposition Congress, however, claimed that 28 people died.
Close on the heels of the Chamarajanagar incident, seven COVID patients died in Kalaburagi and Belagavi district allegedly due to lack of oxygen on Tuesday morning. There has been an unprecedented rise in COVID cases in the state, which is reporting over 44,000 cases and over 200 deaths daily resulting in the shortage of oxygen, drugs and hospital beds, especially the ICU beds.