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Youth Congress Leaders Move Kerala High Court Against "Exorbitantly High" COVID Test Rates In Private Labs Across Kerala

Lydia Suzanne Thomas
29 April 2021 4:22 PM GMT
Youth Congress Leaders Move Kerala High Court Against Exorbitantly High COVID Test Rates In Private Labs Across Kerala
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Kerala Youth Congress Leaders and sitting Members of the Kerala Legislative Assembly Shafi Parambil and KS Sabarinathan have moved the Kerala High Court against the high rates charged for COVID-19 testing in the state. The plea, filed through M/s George Poonthottam and Associates asserts that after adding the constituents of the tests, the total cost for a test is below Rs 300, as...

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Kerala Youth Congress Leaders and sitting Members of the Kerala Legislative Assembly Shafi Parambil and KS Sabarinathan have moved the Kerala High Court against the high rates charged for COVID-19 testing in the state.

The plea, filed through M/s George Poonthottam and Associates asserts that after adding the constituents of the tests, the total cost for a test is below Rs 300, as against the prevailing rate of Rs 1700 per test in private laboratories. Antigen tests would cost up to Rs 125, it is argued, as opposed to the present rate of Rs 400- Rs 500. Referring Government Order dated October 21, 2020, the petitioners contend that the rates prescribed in the said order are exorbitantly high.

Contending that the rates were fixed without any justification, the petitioners take the view that lack of regulation is what is encouraging collusion of the State Government with private laboratories and hospitals.

"When all these datas were available with the Government, as part of a criminal conspiracy, Government had fixed the rate at Rs. 1,700/- which is exorbitantly high, which has resulted in exploiting the common man by private players," the petition states.

The plea points to the powers of the Chief Secretary of the State under the Disaster Management Act as well as the government's authority under the Kerala Essential Articles Control (Temporary Powers) Act, 1961 and the Kerala Epidemic Diseases Ordinance, 2021 and avers that the government is empowered to regulate the functioning of private institutions in public interest.

Citing rates of testing in Delhi, Orissa and Punjab, the petitioners seek a uniform rate of testing in labs across the state.

"It is well within the powers of the State to declare that the laboratories undertaking RT-PCR Test and Antigen Test as part of Government laboratories and to fix the rate to be charged," it is highlighted.

Therefore, the petitioners seek,

  • A quash on the order allowing private labs to charge Rs 1700 for tests
  • A declaration that the pricing an RT-PCR Test at Rs. 1,700/- is exorbitantly high in light of the constituents, charges and rates prevailing in other states,
  • A direction to the State Government to regulate charges in tune with those charged by the State's institutions as these services are "in no way different from the services provided through such contracts"

In the meanwhile, the petitioners seek a stay on the operation of the government order fixing rates that are chargeable by private players, and calls for a direction to the state to regulate prices.Indian Youth Congress Leaders Move Kerala High Court Against "Exorbitantly High" Rates of Testing In Private Laboratories Across Kerala.

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