SC ordered private Labs to tests COVID 19 cases free of cost, expenses incurred shall be decided later

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION

WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) Diary No(s). 10816/2020

DATE: 08/04/2020

SHASHANK DEO SUDHI VS UNION OF INDIA & ORS.

ORDER

The Court convened through Video Conferencing.

This Court by order dated 03.04.2020 had directed the petitioner to serve a copy of the petition to learned Solicitor General of India.

Notice.

Two weeks time is allowed to respondents to file an affidavit in reply.

This writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India filed as Public Interest Litigation seeks a direction to the respondents for ensuring to provide free of cost testing facility of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) by all testing Labs whether private or Government. The petitioner has also challenged the Advisory dated 17.03.2020 issued by Indian Council of Medical Research Department of Health Research, insofar as it fixed Rs.4500 for screening and confirming COVID-19. The petitioner also prays that a direction be issued that all the tests relating to COVID-19 must be carried out under NABL accredited Labs or any agencies approved by WHO or ICMR. Even before the COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by WHO on 11.03.2020, it had spread in several countries. As of now, more than 200 countries are suffering from this pandemic. The number of patients suffering from COVID-19 is rapidly increasing Worldwide with death toll rising rapidly. In our country, in spite of various measures taken by the Government of India and different State Government/Union Territory the number of patients and death caused by it is increasing day by day. Our country has a very large population.

The Indian Council of Medical Research Department of Health Research has notified the details of operative Government Laboratories and Private Laboratories to test COVID-19.

We find prima facie substance in the submission of petitioner that at this time of national calamity permitting private Labs to charge Rs.4500 for screening and confirmation test of COVID-19 may not be within means of a large part of population of this country and no person be deprived to undergo the COVID-19 test due to non-payment of capped amount of Rs.4500. It is submitted before us that insofar as Government Laboratories are concerned the COVID-19 test is conducted free of cost.

The private Hospitals including Laboratories have an important role to play in containing the scale of pandemic by extending philanthropic services in the hour of national crisis. We thus are satisfied that the petitioner has made out a case for issuing a direction to the respondents to issue necessary direction to accredited private Labs to conduct free of cost COVID-19 test. The question as to whether the private Laboratories carrying free of cost COVID-19 tests are entitled for any reimbursement of expenses incurred shall be considered later on. We further are of the view that tests relating to COVID-19 must be carried out in NABL accredited Labs or any agencies approved by ICMR.

We, thus, issue following interim directions to the

respondents:

(i) The tests relating to COVID-19 whether in approved Government Laboratories or approved private Laboratories shall be free of cost. The respondents shall issue necessary direction in this regard immediately.

(ii) Tests relating to COVID-19 must be carried out in NABL accredited Labs or any agencies approved by WHO or ICMR.

J. ASHOK BHUSHAN

J. S. RAVINDRA BHAT

NEW DELHI;

APRIL 08, 2020


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SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
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WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) Diary No(s). 10816/2020