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SC dismisses petition seeking free COVID treatment for all in Maha

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The Supreme Court today (July 17) dismissed a petition against the Bombay High Court order which imposed a cost of Rs 5 lakh on the petitioner, seeking directions for free COVID treatment for all citizens of Maharashtra.

The bench, comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MR Shah, while dismissing the petition, remarked “these public spirited individuals have too much of spirit without anything on merit.”

The petitioner, Sagar Shivajirao Jondhale, had filed a petition before the Bombay High Court seeking directions to provide COVID treatment to all citizens of Maharashtra, totally free of cost in all hospitals, including private hospitals in Maharashtra, to notify uniform rates or charges for the treatment of patients of COVID in all the hospitals in Maharashtra, to provide 100 percent free treatment to COVID patients and to charge all the patients other than those suffering from COVID according to the Mahatma Jyotibha Phule Health Insurance Scheme.

The bench, however, had observed that there is no compulsion on any citizen to take treatment from private facilities. It is entirely left to the option of the patient as to which of the facilities he would prefer, i.e., facilities in private or public hospitals.

“It is settled law that the mechanics of price fixation is necessarily to be left to the judgment of the executive and unless it is patent that there is hostile discrimination against a class of persons, the processual basis of price fixation is to be accepted in the generality of cases to be valid”, had observed by the Bombay High Court bench.

The bench had further said that “to urge the bench to direct the state to provide for treatment of a patient free of cost, in these circumstances, appears to us to be preposterous.”

While imposing a cost of Rs 5 lakh on the petitioner, the bench had remarked “it is absolutely frivolous PIL Petition deserving dismissal in limine with exemplary costs.”

-India Legal Bureau

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