The Supreme Court will on Friday continue hearing the PIL, which sought that medical facilities should be provided to COVID-19 patients across the country, irrespective of their local address.
The Supreme Court, on April 30, had directed the Centre to make a National Plan, which must consist of uniform rules for the admission of COVID-19 patients to hospitals across the country.
The Bench of Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice L Nageswara Rao and Justice S Ravindra Bhat was hearing a plea that hospitals in Gurugram were denying patients from outside the region access to medical facilities. The Bench directed the petitioner to make the representation to the Solicitor General.
The plea stated that hospitals in Noida and Gurugram have made it mandatory to produce Aadhaar cards with a local Noida or Gurugram address, as the case may be, for being eligible to be admitted to hospitals in these two cities.
The same practice has, apparently, been extended for access to medical supplies. The plea said that this has resulted in the violation of fundamental rights under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution.
The Bench said, “To prevent this kind of situation, we have directed the Centre to make a National Plan, which must consist of uniform rules for the admission of COVID-19 patients to hospitals in the entire country.
“All such rules of denying the admission to the hospital on the basis of inter-state residents and coming by ambulance from the 108 number, are ridiculous in nature,” the Bench remarked.
The plea wanted the court to give a direction that medical help be provided to citizens irrespective of their domicile and/or place of residence, as shown in their Aadhaar cards.
The plea stated that on April 21, Gurugram in the state of Haryana, published a notification stating, “All private hospitals will make efforts to admit the patients, subject to availability of beds, who are residents of District Gurugram.”
“That denying access to medical facilities and/or medical supplies to citizens merely on the basis of their domicile (or the lack thereof) is contrary to all constitutional and human norms. The action of the State Authorities in denying life-saving medical assistance to citizens is ex facie unconstitutional and the practice needs to be deprecated by this Hon’ble Court.
“The imposition of such a requirement of local address proof, by way of Aadhaar card or otherwise, is in complete contravention of the fundamental right to life, health and medical aid under Article 21, right to equality under Article 14 as well as the right to move freely, reside and settle in any part of India enshrined under Article 19 of the Constitution,” the plea added.