Today, the hearing of treatment of COVID-19 patients in private hospitals is taking place in the Supreme Court, in front of the CJI.
The Chief Justice of India, Sharad Arvind Bobde, said that the cost of treatment of all the people cannot be the same. It is inequitable to adopt a uniform model for the treatment of all the COVID patients.
The CJI said that ‘reasonable’ is something that is contextual, it is different in different places.
He said that he understands the concerns of the petitioner, but price regulation cannot be done by the Supreme Court.
It has been reported that the Gujarat Model of the treatment is more suitable, but there has been a difference of opinion that it may not work in the state of Maharashtra.
But when contended by the opinion of Advocate Harish Salve, the CJI said that he fully agreed with his contention. Harish Salve had said that it was not possible to determine or fix the cost of medical care for the entire country through the Supreme Court.
The CJI has also said that the cost of medical care should not become a deterrent against providing access to medical care in the country. He also underlined that no one should be denied medical care only because it is too high. This is pertinent in the current times of the pandemic.
A petition was filed by Sachin Jain asking why free or subsidized medical treatment to COVID-19 patients should be given.
SG, Tushar Mehta, has been asked by the CJI to write to the government to consider to what extent has cost become a deterrent in the access to medical care and provide suggestions.
The CJI also told Tushar Mehta that he does not think that the price of treatment should be regulated by the Government. But this does not imply that the Union Government should do nothing about it. If the Gujarat model is deemed suitable, then the Government has no reason to exercise powers under the NDMA, 2005.
The CJI said that since the Gujarat model is effective, therefore, he shall direct the states to follow the guidelines of the Gujarat model.
Senior advocate Anand Grover pleaded the CJI to direct the center to formulate the guidelines and not send it to the state high courts.