Can’t Seek Private Hospital Treatment When Such Treatment Is Available In Govt Hospitals: Gauhati High Court To Undertrial

Jyoti Prakash Dutta

10 Jan 2023 10:52 AM GMT

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  • Can’t Seek Private Hospital Treatment When Such Treatment Is Available In Govt Hospitals: Gauhati High Court To Undertrial

    Dismissing an undertrial's petition seeking a direction for treatment at a private hospital, the Gauhati High Court said the fundamental right to seek medical treatment cannot be interpreted and extended to get him treated in a private hospital of his own choice, while such kind of treatment is very much available in the government HospitalsJustice Robin Phukan said "it cannot be lost sight...

    Dismissing an undertrial's petition seeking a direction for treatment at a private hospital, the Gauhati High Court said the fundamental right to seek medical treatment cannot be interpreted and extended to get him treated in a private hospital of his own choice, while such kind of treatment is very much available in the government Hospitals

    Justice Robin Phukan said "it cannot be lost sight of the fact" that he is under judicial custody in connection with a case lodged by the CBI.

    The court further observed that when necessary treatment is being provided to him in Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), by the Jail Authority and the type of treatment required for him is available there, and while his health condition has improved after taking such treatment, "it cannot be said that the fundamental right of the petitioner is impaired."

    Brief Facts

    The petitioner, an accused in a corruption case, had prayed for issuance of a writ in the nature of mandamus, directing the jail authorities of the Central Jail, Guwahati, to allow him to get admitted in a private hospital of his choice, within the locality of Guwahati at his own cost for his further treatment, pursuant to his release from the GMCH.

    Contentions of the Petitioner

    S.A. Hussain, advocate for the petitioner told the court that though the petitioner was admitted in GMCH from time to time, he is not getting proper treatment there. The court was told that his health condition is deteriorating gradually day by day.

    He relied on the decision of the Apex Court in Gautam Navlakha v. National Investigation Agency & Anr., wherein it was held the right of an undertrial prisoner to seek medical treatment is a fundamental right.

    He also cited the order dated 07.10.2022, wherein the High Court had directed the jail authorities that in case of any serious illness of the petitioner, they shall take proper care and if necessary, he may be allowed to get admitted in a private hospital, at his own cost. Therefore, he argued that the petitioner is entitled to undergo medical treatment at a private hospital of his choice.

    Contentions of the Respondent

    M. Haloi, counsel for the respondent CBI opposed the petition. Referring to a medical report dated 20.12.2022, he submitted that the petitioner was suffering from vomiting of blood, with nasal blockage and he was diagnosed to have Systemic Hypertension with Upper Gastrointestinal Bleeding, with left sided Deviated Nasal Septum with Right inferior turbinate Hypertrophy.

    He pointed out that the petitioner was admitted to the GMCH on 29.11.2022 and discharged from the Hospital on 02.12.2022. He was further referred to various departments of the GMCH at regular intervals for necessary follow up and reviews and presently, he is under medication, the court was told

    Thus, Haloi argued the medical report does not reveal that he has been suffering from any serious ailment, and the treatment required for the petitioner is very much available at the GMCH. He contended that there is no question of allowing the petitioner to take treatment in a private hospital of his choice.

    Court’s Observations

    The Court at the outset noted that the petitioner has not disputed the medical report submitted by the Jail Doctor of Central Jail, Guwahati. It noted that the report reveals he is under medication and his vital health parameters are within the normal limits.

    “In the event of non-availability of the treatment of the disease in the GMCH, in which the petitioner is suffering from, then it would have been a good case for referring him to a Private Hospital of his choice, where such treatment is available. Nevertheless, it is not the case of the petitioner that the treatment required for his treatment, is not available in the GMCH," said the court.

    The bench also noted that it is no more res-integra that the right to seek medical treatment is a fundamental right as envisaged under Article 21 of the Constitution. The same position has also been reiterated by the Supreme Court in catena of decisions, including the decision in Gautam Navlakha and Bandhua Mukti Morcha v. Union Of India & Ors, it said.

    “It also cannot be lost sight that an undertrial prisoner’s right to life does not diminish even a wee bit, when in jail as an accused for an offence and such a person’s health concerned have to be taken care of by the State. The right to dignity of an accused does not dry out with the Judges’ ink, rather, it subsists beyond the prison gates and operates until his last breath," the Court observed.

    However, the court said necessary treatment is being provided to the petitioner in GMCH. It directed the Jail Authority to take all steps to provide necessary treatment to him at the GMCH or in any other government hospital, as and when required. 

    Resultantly, the writ petition was dismissed.

    Case Title: Chintan Jain v. The Central Bureau of Investigation

    Case No.: W.P.(Crl.) No. 42 of 2022

    Judgment Dated: 5th January 2023

    Coram: Robin Phukan, J.

    Counsel for the Petitioner: Mr. S.A. Hussain, Advocate

    Counsel for the Respondent: Mr. M. Haloi, Standing Counsel for the CBI

    Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Gau) 2

    Click Here To Read/Download Judgment

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