SC notice to Centre to fix uniform rate for RT-PCR test after petitioner alleges loot
The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought a response from the Centre on a petition seeking fixation of uniform ceiling on the RT-PCR test for detection of Coronovirus disease (COVID-19) across the country.
The petition filed by a lawyer Ajay Agrawal demanded that the rate throughout the country for this test should be fixed at a maximum of Rs 400 as he produced ‘evidence’ of a Nagpur-based supplier who is willing to provide RT-PCR test kits for as cheap as Rs 200.
A three-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde agreed to issue notice to the Centre and fixed the matter for hearing after two weeks. On the next day of hearing, the court will examine this issue along with a pending petition that has demanded subsidized treatment for Covid-19 patients at private hospitals.
Agrawal raised this issue in public interest as he pointed out to the court that presently states were charging citizens at will. Delhi, for instance, fixed the rate for RT-PCR testing kits at Rs 2,400 while Andhra Pradesh has pegged it as high as Rs 2,900. Haryana had the lowest rate of Rs 900 per test kit, while West Bengal and Karnataka have last month revised these rates at Rs 1,500-1,600. Meanwhile, in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, with effect from October 31, government hospitals/laboratories are charging Rs 600 per test while private hospitals in the state continue to charge Rs 1600 per test.
“The RT-PCR kits are presently available for less than Rs 200. The deponent has received a latest quotation (for RT-PCR kits) dated November 21 from Orange City Glassco Private Limited, based in Nagpur for Rs 199 plus discount up to Rs 25 on bulk purchase….there is no additional cost as the machines used for RT-PCR test are already there with the laboratories as they use it to conduct large number of tests for (testing) other infectious diseases such as HIV, Hepatitis, dengue, tuberculosis, malaria, etc,” Agrawal stated in his petition.
He urged the Court to urgently consider the matter as in the wake of the rising number of Covid-19 cases, the citizens have to conduct this test at the earliest.
The petition said, “Crores of people have lost their jobs and maximum people are unemployed….It is the work of a welfare state to see the welfare of the people and stop this type of loot.” Even at Rs 400, the petitioner claimed that private establishments can still make profit as most of the private labs/hospitals have already installed the test machines.
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