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Delhi HC refuses to pass orders on plea against pvt hospitals over Covid charges

June 13, 2020 05:34 AM

COURTESY HT JUNE 13

Delhi HC refuses to pass orders on plea against pvt hospitals over Covid charges
Richa Banka

letters@hindustantimes.com

New Delhi : The Delhi High Court on Friday refused to pass any directions on a plea that sought the Delhi government be ordered to ensure that no private hospital declared a Covid-19 facility overcharge patients, or deny treatment due to a lack of funds.

While the bench, of chief justice DN Patel and justice Prateek Jalan, said the issue raised in the plea is “good”, it said it could not pass any general directions in the matter, saying it would be “difficult to implement”.

“At this stage, we are not inclined to issue any direction,” the bench said while disposing the public interest litigation, filed by advocate Amit Sahni, who sought modifications in a May 24 government circular.

The bench said in cases of overcharging, an aggrieved party may approach the court with a specific prayer against the respective hospital, but general directions cannot be passed in a PIL. It asked Sahni to give a representation to the Delhi government.

According to the May 24 circular, private hospitals shall bill the Covid-19 patients as per their respective schedule of charges. By the virtue of the order, the hospitals were allowed to increase their number of beds for non-Covid patients by 25%, which was earlier not allowed. However the government had said that the 117 hospitals can ask for only 50% of their lowest charges for these extra non-Covid beds.

On plea challenging reservation of 20% hospital beds

The Delhi High Court on Friday directed the government to treat a plea challenging its order that all private hospitals/nursing homes in the city with a bed capacity of 50 or more should reserve 20% capacity for the treatment of Covid-19 patients, as a representation contending that hospitals would further spread infection due to the difficulty of segregating patients.

A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan asked the petitioner Kaushal Kant Mishra, an orthopaedic surgeon, to give a representation to the government, which would be dealt with in accordance with the law and guidelines. The court disposed of the plea that contended that the said order of the government was “arbitrary” and in violation of the Indian Constitution as it would lead to the hospitals becoming further spreaders of infection. The plea stated that most of the 117 hospitals or nursing homes covered in this order are designed as single buildings, and not separate blocks, where Covid-19 patients cannot be effectively segregated from other patients.

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