Hospital COVID-19
Hospital COVID-19
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Plea against commercialisation of health care, seeking cap on price for COVID-19 treatment: SC suo motu impleads all States & UTs

The Court has now ordered the Centre to hold a meeting of the Health Ministers/Secretaries of all States and UTs within one week so that they can thereafter come up with healthcare plans focusing on marginalised sections

Debayan Roy

A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice of India, SA Bobde, has suo motu impleaded all states in a petition seeking uniform price cap for COVID-19 treatment.

The order by CJI Bobde, AS Bopanna and R Ramasubramanian was passed on a petition filed by Advocate and petitioner in person, Sachin Jain, seeking directions to private hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients and to cap the price of such treatment under the Ayushman Bharat scheme.

The Central government stated that public health was a State subject. As such, it was submittd that the Centre cannot dictate decisions, but rather only ask the States to decide.

We cannot go into each issue. There are different terms under which land has been given to each hospital,” was the argument put forth by the Centre.

Since the petitioner had not impleaded the States in this plea, the Court proceeded to suo motu implead the States as respondents.

"Neither the writ petitioner has taken care to implead the State Governments as parties nor have any of the respondents/intervenors taken note of the existence or otherwise of the legislative framework within which we could look for better solutions," reads the order.

The Court has now ordered the Central government to hold a meeting of the Health Ministers/Secretaries of all States and Union Territories (UTs) within one week.

All States and UTs be "advised to come up, within 2 weeks of the first meeting, with a master plan, both legislative and executive, taking cue from the already existing Public Health Acts of various States and also taking cue from the National Health Bill, 2009, which focuses on the marginalized sections of society."

The Court has also ordered a subsequent second meeting to be conducted where all the inputs by State governments are collated together so that the Centre can eventully prepare a final report.

The top Court has also stated that the States which already have Public Health Acts, may be advised to fine­tune their existing enactments, on the model of the National Health Bill, 2009.

The Centre, in its affidavit, has stated that it has no statutory power under the Clinical Establishments Act 2010 to direct private and charitable hospitals to give free treatment to COVID-19 patients.

The petitioner, Sachin Jain maintained that "private hospitals are charging exorbitant rates and that India was going through a global pandemic. Private hospitals are charging Rs 20 lakh and more.”

Senior Advocate Harish Salve, appearing for private hospitals had said that, "the States have their own models. It is different from State to State. It can’t have one rate for all States. In Maharashtra state, 80 % beds are reserved for COVID patients. Each State is trying to do as per their model. We have pointed out in our reply. No direction is necessary for that. They are already providing free treatment to patients. People are scared to go to the hospital.”

Read order:

Sachin Jain Fixed COVID-19 treatment.pdf
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