Udayavni Special

SC dismisses plea seeking relaxing of medical expenses for non-COVID-19 treatment

PTI, Apr 21, 2020, 4:25 PM IST

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday, April 21 refused to entertain a plea seeking directions to the Centre, states and Union Territories for taking immediate steps to relax all medical expenses of non-COVID-19 ailments during the coronavirus pandemic.

A bench of Justices N V Ramana, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and B R Gavai dismissed the plea filed by lawyer Sourjya Das in which he said that due to the nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus, the means of livelihood and businesses of people have come to a halt resulting in financial crisis in numerous families.

The top court also rejected another petition which sought to make masks and sanitizers free of Goods and Services Tax (GST) to make it cheaper at the time of coronavirus.

Das in his petition, said, On perusal of the steps taken by the respondents (Centre, States and UTs), it is valid to infer that the respondents have not taken steps to relax/reduce non-COVID-19 related healthcare/treatment expenses during the COVID-19 outbreak.

He submitted that such omission on the part of the respondents is a direct infringement of the right to life’ under Article 21 of the Constitution, of the members of the public or the citizens of India.

The plea said the following halt in means of livelihood and income, people are spending out of their savings for food and shelter in daily life and the restrictions have hampered life in such a way that no one knows when things will get back to normal.

The advocate said that it needs to be considered that at this time, several people require non-COVID-19 related medical treatment services like chemotherapy, emergency transplants, colonoscopy, various tests and other various treatments.

(Thus), it is of paramount importance that non-COVID-19 related medical treatment expenses/fees are relaxed/reduced by the respondents to help the citizens of India to healthily cope with this world health pandemic with hope and dignity and with no fear of a financial crisis in case a prescribed / emergency medical treatment had to be undergone by a member of the public, the plea said.

The petitioner had sought directions to Centre, all states and Union Territories to immediately issue orders to private hospitals/laboratories/nursing homes/clinics to relax/ reduce non-COVID-19 related medical healthcare treatment services.

The petition had also sought the stay on all pending medical or healthcare bills of any patient till action is taken by the Centre, States and UTs.

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