PIL claims private hospitals not admitting, overcharging Covid patients; HC directs to implead BMC chiefUpdated: May 20, 2020 22:30 IST
The Bombay high court (HC) has directed a petitioner to implead (to make a party in the lawsuit) the municipal commissioner in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) claiming that private hospitals were not admitting Covid-19 patients or overcharging them for treatment. The PIL also stated that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) was not accepting reports from private testing labs and subjecting tested persons to fresh tests.
The division bench of chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice SS Shinde was of the opinion that the presence of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) chief Iqbal Chahal was necessary to adjudicate such matters.
The PIL filed by Sarika Singh, a resident of Kurla, was brought to hearing through video conferencing by advocate Varsha Jagdale.
Jagdale submitted that private hospitals were charging exorbitant amounts for treatment of patients or refusing to treat them at all. She added that Singh was prompted to file the PIL after she learnt that a police constable who had Covid like symptoms, was asked to deposit ₹2 lakh by a private hospital in Vashi to be admitted there.
Jagdale added that as the constable was unable to arrange for the amount, he was kept waiting for around five hours. It was only after the local police station threatened to file an FIR against the hospital authorities, that the hospital admitted him with a deposit of ₹20,000. According to the petition, as police personnel are covered by the Aarogya Kutumb Yojana – an insurance cover provided by the centre – private hospitals should not refuse admission to them.
It was also submitted on behalf of the petitioner, that test reports issued by private hospitals certifying patients as not infected by Covid-19, were not being accepted by the corporation and they were made to undergo fresh tests. On the suggestion of the government pleader that the BMC commissioner should also be a party to the PIL, the bench allowed the interim application of the petitioner to add him as a respondent.
The court observed, “Having regard to the nature of issues raised in the PIL petition and also upon hearing learned counsel appearing for the respective parties, we are of the considered opinion that the presence of the municipal commissioner would be beneficial for proper adjudication of such issues and dispensation of justice on this PIL petition.”
With regards to the main prayers in the PIL, the court directed Purnima Kantharia, government pleader for the state, and advocate Yamuna Parekh for the BMC, to obtain instructions from the authorities on grievances raised by the petitioner. The PIL has been posted for further hearing on May 22.