In an urgent sitting that ended at 1:42am (India time) today, the Delhi High Court directed police to immediately escort some 20 persons injured in the ongoing clashes in Mustafabad to Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital for treatment, Indian news website The Wire reports.
The bench comprising Justice S Muralidhar and Justice AJ Bhambhani convened at the residence of Justice Muralidhar.
The court's order explained the circumstances of the unusual sitting: "One of us (S Muralidhar) received a call from an advocate Suroor Mander explaining the dire circumstances under which certain grievously wounded victims of the riots taking place in the North Eastern District of Delhi were unable to be moved from the Al Hind Hospital in New Mustafabad, a fairly small hospital which lacks the facilities for treating seriously wounded persons, for treatment at the GTB Hospital in Dilshad Gardens. She prayed for urgent orders for safe passage of the ambulances, both to the Al Hind Hospital and from the said hospital for the injured victims".
Earlier in the evening, the hospital authorities had turned to social media to highlight their predicament after they failed to secure the support of the police for the injured patients.
At the hearing, the two judges as well as Delhi Police counsel Sanjay Ghose and two senior police officers were able to speak to Dr Anwar at the Al Hind hospital on speaker phone.
"Dr Anwar explained that there were two dead persons and around 22 injured persons at the Al Hind Hospital and that he had been trying to seek police help since around 4 pm today [Tuesday] without success," the court noted in its order.
"The court accordingly directs the Delhi Police to ensure such safe passage by deploying all the resources at its command and on the strength of this order and to ensure that apart from the safe passage, the injured victims receive immediate emergency treatment, if not at the GTB Hospital, then at the LNJP Hospital or Maulana Azad or any other government hospital."
Justice Muralidhar is the third-most senior judge in the Delhi High Court but will soon be shifted to the Punjab and Haryana High Court in a transfer order that has the high court bar up in arms, according to the report published by The Wire.
After the order, one of the doctors who had tried unsuccessfully to evacuate the patients, Dr Harjit Singh Bhatti of the Progressive Medicos and Scientists Forum, took to Twitter to underscore the irony that in a democracy "we need [the] court's intervention to provide medical aid."
The death toll in clashes between opposing groups of protesters in New Delhi has risen to 20 as violence over a contentious citizenship law is roiling India's capital for a third day.
The clashes, the worst in the capital since unrest over a new citizenship law began in December, started at the weekend but turned deadly on Monday. Fresh violence erupted in multiple areas of northeast Delhi yesterday.