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Supreme Court tells petitioner seeking implementation of National Healthcare Policy, 2017 to re-submit plea after collecting data, analysing policy gap

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The Supreme Court on Monday allowed the petitioner seeking implementation of SC verdict in Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity vs State of W.B. (1996) by way of implementation of the National Healthcare Policy, 2017, to withdraw the PIL and submit the same again after collection of critical data and undertaking the policy gap analysis.

A two-judge bench comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and B.V. Nagarathna passed the order on a PIL that prayed for the implementation of the judgement of the Supreme Court in Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity vs State of W.B. (1996) by way of implementation of the National Healthcare Policy, 2017. 

The PIL also prayed for directions to provide solace to the families, who lost sources of livelihood and savings due to Covid-19 health treatment and for National Health Authority and Insurance authorities to reimburse the health expenses incurred for Covid-19 treatment paid by the Policy holders with more supporting prayers. 

The Court at the outset created boundaries on the PIL by stating the issues are too generic to be treated as a PIL and owing to their expansive nature, it is not possible for the court to deal with all of them by way of a single petition. The PIL at the outset became limited only to the implementation of the National Healthcare Policy of 2017. 

The court stated that by the enactment and creating of the said policy the compliance and enforcement of the aforementioned judgement was met, the PIL seeks to implement the policy itself, and for that purpose such a generic petition with no critical data and based on a single cause of action cannot be taken as the basis. Moreover, the court would be burdened to see where exactly the holes demanding implementation lie. 

The court stated that in a PIL the issues and scope and area of action should be clearly pointed out and displayed such that the complete burden to follow through with the petition doesn’t rest on the heads of the bench. The court stated that the advocates must do their homework before filing a PIL. 

For the purpose of this petition the court pointed out that the petitioner must undertake a complete policy gap analysis and generate critical data by virtue of which the courts would be able to see the scope of the cause of action. The court demanded that the exact areas of shortfall and where the states and center are faltering. The petitioner must undertake to see by virtue of other aggrieved citizens, the different cause of actions and the same must be represented in the petition. 

The court stated that PILs tend to transfer the complete burden on the court and advocates avoid doing their part. The bench further stated that critical data must be produced and advocates must do their homework before approaching the courts. They would clearly point out the issues of the PIL, the prayers and subsequent grounds for filing the PIL.

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