The Supreme Court on Thursday sought an affidavit from the Delhi government on how 27 private hospitals were treating poor patients for free.
A bench of Justice RV Raveendran and Justice AK Patnaik said they would like to know whether these hospitals were providing free medicines even for diseases like cancer.
The direction came after a member of the monitoring committee constituted by Delhi government informed the bench that of the 37 hospitals that got land at concession, 27 were providing free treatment to poor patients.
The committee had been formed to oversee the implementation of the high court’s 2007 judgement directing private hospitals to treat poor for free. Rest of the 10 hospitals have now appealed against this order.
On learning that 27 private hospitals are implementing these directions, the court told the counsel for Dharamshila Hospital, one of the appellants, “If others can do it, why can’t you... Give them the land’s market price and do whatever you want to.”
In defence, the hospital claimed it was a specialty hospital for cancer. “Medicines for such patients come at exorbitant rates. None of the 27 hospitals provide free consumables,” the counsel claimed. Following this, the court asked the government counsel to hold another meeting with their representatives for a “workable solution”.
“A line has to be drawn in cases where patients are suffering from a disease that requires heavy expenditure. It must be specified as to what extent the hospitals can spend,” the bench said. The government has already rejected the appellants’ proposal to provide treatment at the cost of CGHS prices.
Advocate Ashok Aggarwal, counsel for the petitioner on whose PIL the 2007 judgment came, had told the court that the 27 hospitals were providing free medicines to the patients.