Telangana HC asks govt to allow private labs to conduct Covid-19 tests

Updated on May 20, 2020 09:15 PM IST

A division bench of the high court comprising Justice M S Ramachandra Rao and Justice K Lakshman found fault with the Telangana government headed by chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao for insisting that people should get tested for Covid-19 only in state-authorised labs.

The court ruled that only those private hospitals and labs which are authorised by the Indian Council of Medical Research could admit patients and conduct tests for Covid-19 in Telangana.(PTI PHOTO.)
The court ruled that only those private hospitals and labs which are authorised by the Indian Council of Medical Research could admit patients and conduct tests for Covid-19 in Telangana.(PTI PHOTO.)
Hindustan Times, Hyderabad | BySrinivasa Rao Apparasu | Edited by Sohini Sarkar

The Telangana high court on Wednesday directed the state government to allow authorised private labs in the state to conduct Covid-19 tests and private hospitals to treat such patients.

A division bench of the high court comprising Justice M S Ramachandra Rao and Justice K Lakshman found fault with the Telangana government headed by chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao for insisting that people should get tested for Covid-19 only in state-authorised labs at Gandhi Hospital and Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) and go for treatment only in government hospitals.

“This is highly unconstitutional. People have every right to get tested and treated at private labs and hospitals respectively at their own cost. The government cannot bring pressure on anyone to go only to the state-run hospitals,” the bench observed, while dealing with a public interest litigation petition filed by one Ganta Jaya Kumar of Hyderabad.

However, the court ruled that only those private hospitals and labs which are authorised by the Indian Council of Medical Research could admit patients and conduct tests for Covid-19.

“Those private labs and hospitals willing to deal with Covid-19 cases should apply for permission from ICMR. Experts from ICMR would assess the capacity of the labs and facilities available in the hospitals before giving permission. The ICMR will also fix rates for the tests and treatment,” the bench said.

The high court wondered how the government could alone tackle the Covid-19 which was rapidly spreading in the country without the support of private institutions. “At present, government labs are conducting tests only for those who have symptoms of Covid-19. What about asymptomatic patients? What is the objection by the government if those asymptomatic patients go to private labs to get tested for Covid-19 at their own cost? Does it not reduce the burden on the government?” the court asked.

The court did not agree with the contention of the state government that the private hospitals, if given permission, might misuse the same and hide the actual figures. “If the government has no faith on the private hospitals, why is it allowing them to treat patients under Arogya Sri scheme?” it questioned.

Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, in the past, had ruled out giving permission to private labs and hospitals to deal with Covid-19 cases on the pretext that they would fleece the people in the name of tests and treatment.

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