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Lack of Equal Treatment for Covid-19, State Asked To Control Profit-Making By Anyone: High Court of Kerala

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Case: Adv Sabu P. Joseph v. State of Kerala and Ors.


The writ petition was filed based under the current circumstance of the pandemic, requesting the court to direct the respondents to re-fix tariff for the private hospital/nursing homes for the Covid-19 patients including charges of laboratories and Diagnostic Centres considering the common man with low income


The petitioner stated that the government has to ensure the public health of the people, the prices for treatments and tests are not feasible to many people. Denial of effective health facilities of COVID is a failure on the part of the government and violative of Article 21 of the constitution. They also mentioned that considering the immediate requirements of these facilities the private institutions are exploiting the pandemic situation with the fear of the people

Court’s Observations

The Court stated that the state’s roles in regulating costs would cross with legal and procedural difficulties. The regulation becomes more difficult when the definition of having fair prices are not definite, it is also not possible for them to have an accurate secured price due to different factors being involved. The State Government should assure that every citizen should be provided with the facility to get adequate treatment through Government Health Service or else assure the treatment through other private facilities in the present rapid spread of Covid-19 and unavailability of beds, ICU’s and Oxygen supported beds etc. in the Government Hospitals stated the court. The court added that regulation of costs of treatment in private hospitals should have conditions applied in full force. The State certainly needs to consider after consulting all necessary stakeholders including managements of private hospitals, if any further downward revisions can be made. Ultimately, the Court expressed that the fixing of a price “can certainly be done only by the State.”

Court’s Decision

The Court adjourned the case to May 4, 2021, for the State to respond with their suggestions in this matter, attending to the specific contention of the petitioner that the situation is in fact far graver than in July 2020.

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