SC asks Centre for a response to PIL seeking cap on COVID patients treatment in Pvt hospitals

AMID accusations that several private hospitals are charging the Covid-19 patients excessively for treatment, The Supreme Court of India has agreed to hear public interest litigation (PIL) seeking an upper limit on fees that can be charged by private hospitals across the country for treatment of such cases. A three-judge bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan and also comprising Justices MR Shah and V Balasubramanian has asked the GOI  to file its response to the PIL, filed by one Avishek Goenka, within a week. The SC has asked the petitioner to serve a copy of the PIL to Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to ensure that the law officer of the Centre can take proper instructions from the government related to the matte fixing for further hearing the PIL after one week. The petitioner has approached the top court seeking directions to appropriate authorities for an upper limit on fees that can be charged by private hospitals for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. A similar matter was listed before a bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde. The court has asked Centre whether private/charitable hospitals, which got land free from the government  could be asked to treat COVID19 patients free of cost. Thereafter, the Centre has already filed an affidavit saying it did not have the statutory power to direct private hospitals to treat COVID19 patients free of cost. The PIL was filed in the Apex Court seeking directions to the Central Government for fixation of Cap on fees of treatment for COIVD-19 patients in Private Hospitals to avoid arbitrary rejection of insurance claims. “The failure of respondents in giving a broad-based cost of treatment to Private Hospitals qua COVID-19 patients and consequent irrational charging by them impinges upon rights guaranteed to the patients under Article 21 of the constitution”, said the Petitioner. (With inputs from Bar & Bench)

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