The Supreme Court Thursday directed 37 private hospitals here to provide free treatment to the poor — 25% in the out-patient department (OPD) and 10% indoor (IPD).
Rejecting an appeal by 10 private hospitals built on subsidised government land — including Dharamshila and Max — challenging a March 2007 Delhi high court order to treat the poor for free, the apex court said they couldn't "wriggle out" of their responsibility.
Under the lease agreement with the government, these hospitals were obliged to treat 25% OPD and 25% IPD patients at no charge. The high court had, however, reduced this from 25% to 10% in the IPD category.
"You are making money. You don't treat anyone without accepting money. Do you see the capacity of a patient while charging him," asked the SC.
On August 30, the Delhi government in an affidavit apprised the court that 27 of the 37 hospitals were treating the poor in accordance with the HC order.
Members of families with a monthly income of up to Rs 6,422 can avail of the free treatment, which includes diagnostic tests and medicines.
"This is a landmark verdict," said Ashok Agrawal, counsel for Social Jurist, the petitioner.