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Kerala High Court Rejects Private Labs's Plea Against Order Refusing To Stay Govt. Decision To Reduce RT-PCR Test Rates

Hannah M Varghese
23 Jun 2021 1:05 PM GMT
Kerala High Court Rejects Private Labss Plea Against Order Refusing To Stay Govt. Decision To Reduce RT-PCR Test Rates
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Kerala High Court on Monday refused to interfere with the order of the Single Judge Bench refusing to stay the government order reducing the rates of RT PCR tests from Rs. 1700 to Rs. 500. The appeal was preferred by Devi Scans (P) Ltd and other private diagnostic laboratories in Kerala. Adv. Paul Jacob argued on behalf of the petitioners challenged the order of a Single Judge Bench...

Kerala High Court on Monday refused to interfere with the order of the Single Judge Bench refusing to stay the government order reducing the rates of RT PCR tests from Rs. 1700 to Rs. 500.

The appeal was preferred by Devi Scans (P) Ltd and other private diagnostic laboratories in Kerala. Adv. Paul Jacob argued on behalf of the petitioners challenged the order of a Single Judge Bench of this court on the ground that the order re-fixing the rate for RT-PCR test for COVID-19 is issued in violation of the principles of natural justice.

In the petition before the Single Judge, the petitioners had sought directions to the effect that the state government has no authority or jurisdiction to fix the rates for RT-PCR test with respect to private laboratories, unless they subsidise the lesser amount than that prescribed by the Indian Council for Medical Research for COVID-19 tests.

In the writ petition, the petitioners had also sought for an interim stay of operation and implementation of this order and all further proceedings pursuant thereto, pending disposal of the writ petition. However, the single Judge declined the interim reliefs sought for, citing that the State Government has decided the rate of RT-PCR test after conducting a market survey study through the Kerala Medical Services Corporation Ltd.

The issue that arose for consideration in the appeal was whether any interference was warranted on the order of the Single Judge.

Justice Anil K. Narendran and Justice Ziyad Rahman A. A. dismissed the appeal holding that as the Single Judge had aptly observed, there is massive price reduction in the market for test kits and consumables due to multiple competent players, which is equally applicable to the private sector.

Moreover, the court observed that several complaints were lodged regarding the rate for RT-PCR test in the Kerala being the highest in the country. Many news articles had also drawn a comparison with a few other states, from which it was observed that in at least three other States the cost for RT-PCR test is Rs.500/- and in two States, it was less than Rs.500/-.

Furthermore, this move of the State Government in reducing the RT-PCR rate was orally appreciated by a Division Bench of this Court in a PIL seeking a direction to reduce RT-PCR rates in the State. In fact, the charges in Haryana, Telangana and Uttarakhand were similar to the ones fixed by the Kerala government.

It was also noted that only around ten laboratories had challenged the government order through the petition. A majority of the accredited laboratories in the State including Doctors' Diagnostic Research Centre, which has branches throughout the State, had accepted the new rate.

Regarding the authority of the State to decide the rates, a letter from Department of Health- and Family Welfare, Ministry of Health, Department of Health Research and ICMR was produced, whereby State Governments are asked to finalise the rates for RT-PCR test by the private laboratories.

Therefore, the Division Bench found no reason to interfere with the reasoning of the Single Judge in the impugned order declining the interim reliefs sought for in the writ petition, in exercise of the appellate jurisdiction

As such, the appeal was dismissed, leaving open the legal and factual contentions raised before the Court by both sides, which have to be raised in an appropriate manner before the Single Judge.

Title: Devi Scans (P) Ltd & Ors V. State of Kerala

Click Here To Download/Read Judgment


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