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SC directs government to make all COVID-19 tests free of cost for citizens

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the central government to ensure that testing facility for COVID-19 is made available free of cost to all citizens. The order came in light of a PIL filed by Mr. Shashank Deo Sudhi, Advocate seeking direction to the Centre and authorities concerned to provide free of cost testing facility for COVID-19 to all citizens in the country which the Government had fixed the testing of COVID-19 at private labs and hospitals at Rs. 4500.

The petitioner pleaded in the writ petition that government hospitals are packed to capacity and it has become difficult for the common man to get himself/herself tested in the government labs. With no alternative, people are forced to pay money to get the tests done at private labs and burdening ordinary citizens financially, deprives people of their accessibility to medical facilities and is violative of right to life guaranteed under article 21 of the Constitution.

The case was heard by the division bench comprising of Justice Ashok Bhusan & Justice S. Ravindra Bhat who asked the government to explore the feasibility of a mechanism to reimburse private labs for COVID-19 tests so that citizens don’t have to pay for it. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the Central Government said that 15000 tests were being done by 118 labs as this was not sufficient so, private labs had to be roped in. To this Justice Bhushan said that, don’t allow private labs to charge for testing people for corona virus.

In reply, the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that the Government will consider its feasibility.

India Legal Bureau

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