COVID 19: HC refuses to pass direction to ensure no overcharging by private hospitals

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June 12, 2020 3:32 PM

The plea has said it has not impleaded Covid-19 hospitals as party to the petition since the directions sought are against the government to ensure justice with its citizens.

delhi high court, delhi government, covid-19, coronavirus, coronavirus treatment charges Delhi, HC on Delhi coronavirus fees, directions to delhi government on coronvirus treatment fee, coronavirus in Delhi, coronavirus pandemicThe petition was filed by social activist and advocate Amit Sahni.

The Delhi High Court Friday refused to pass any direction to the Delhi government to ensure no private hospital which has been declared as COVID-19 hospital, charges the patients exorbitantly or deny treatment due to paucity of funds.

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A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan said though the issue raised in the plea is good, it cannot pass any general directions in the public interest litigation, which would be difficult to implement.

“At this stage, we are not inclined to issue any directions” the bench said during the hearing via video conferencing.

The court disposed of the petition filed by social activist and advocate Amit Sahni who referred to May 24 circular of the Delhi government regarding payment for treatment issued by a private hospital.

The bench said in case of overcharging, an aggrieved party may approach the court with a specific prayer against such hospital and general directions cannot be passed in a PIL.

The court asked Sahni to approach the Delhi government with the grievance raised in the petition.

The plea has modification of the May 24 circular issued by the Delhi government which stated “these private hospitals shall bill the Covid-19 patients as per their respective schedule of charges. However, the billing for non-Covid-19 patients admitted on the extra beds shall not be more than 50 per cent of the lower economy category of concerned hospital as per earlier practice during upsurge of cases of vector borne disease.”

The petition has said considering the increase in Covid-19 cases, the state government has declared various hospitals as Covid-19 hospitals and by its June 3 order, the authorities declared three private hospitals as Covid Hospitals – Mool Chand Khairati Lal Hospital, Saroj Super Specialty Hospital and Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. These hospitals are obliged to provide 10 per cent IPD and 25 per cent OPD services to patients belonging to the economically weaker section (EWS).

The petitioner has highlighted that he has come across a circular issued by one of these private Covid -19 hospital, which has fixed 3 lakhs as a minimum bill for Covid-19 patients and that patient will be admitted only after advance of Rs 4 lakhs in 2 bedded / 3 bedded category and Rs 5 Lakhs in single room and Rs 8 Lakhs in ICU.

“The State being a welfare state has to ensure that private hospitals do not charge patients exorbitantly and also to ensure that those who require immediate medical attention/intensive care, are not denied admission due to paucity of funds,” the PIL has said.

The plea has said it has not impleaded Covid-19 hospitals as party to the petition since the directions sought are against the government to ensure justice with its citizens during the crisis of pandemic.

“The respondents (Delhi government) are duty bound to ensure that the private hospitals do not overcharge public particularly when the government hospitals do not have sufficient infrastructure to accommodate all patients suffering from Covid-19,” it has said.

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