Bombay HC Imposes Stay on Government’s Notification Fixing Rates for Non-COVID Patients in Private Hospitals

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A petition challenging Government Orders that regulated the prices for the treatment of patients in private hospitals was instituted in the Bombay HC’s Nagpur Bench. The Court imposed a stay on the aforesaid notification.

Background

The State Government issued notifications dated 30th April 2020 and 21st May 2020 to regulate the prices for the treatment of COVID & non-COVID patients in private hospitals. By order dated 4th June 2020, the Municipal Commissioner extended its operation up to 31st August 2020. By a subsequent notification dated 31st August 2020, the State Government extended the operation of the previous notifications up to 31st November 2020. On 15th September 2020, the Court had passed an order directing the State Government to explain its competence in fixing the rates for non-COVID patients in private hospitals failing which the Court would impose a stay on the aforesaid portion of the notification. The present hearing arises out of a pursis filed by the State along with a copy of the praecipe moved before the Chief Justice on 22nd September 2020.

State Government’s Submissions

The State Government submitted that the notification dated 31st August 2020 issued by the State Government had not been challenged in the present petition. It also urged that any separate order passed by the Municipal Commissioner in this regard has also not been challenged in the present petition.

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Further, in the affidavit filed by the State, the circumstances under which such notification was issued have been explained which ought to be considered. The Additional Government Pleader requests the Court to schedule the next hearing for the matter on 29th September 2020 so the question related to competency can be argued.

Submissions by the Amicus Curiae

Shri Subodh Dharmadhikari – learned Senior Advocate acting as Amicus Curiae urged that if the notification dated 21st May 2020 has been extended by a subsequent notification then it would be a mere formality to place on record the subsequent notification. Therefore, the challenge in substance for the earlier notification would survive for consideration for the court.

Court’s Observations

The Court noted the propriety of taking up the matter when the Government Pleader had placed the praecipe filed before the Chief Justice before this Bench. However, in light of the order passed on 15th September 2020 where the Court assured the Petitioners interim relief if no response was received from the State, it is necessary to pass relevant interim orders.

Court’s Decision

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Given the observations made above, the Court scheduled the next hearing for this matter on 29th September 2020 to enable the State Government to move the praecipe before the Hon’ble Chief Justice and argue the matter on merits. The Court directed the stay of operations on Clause (4) which fixed the price of non-COVID treatments in private hospitals in the notification dated 21st May 2020 issued by the State Government.


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