The Madhya Pradesh High Court (Jabalpur Bench) on Wednesday (02nd September) directed the State Government to issue directions to "every Hospital, including Private Hospitals, to display the rates for treatment of COVID-19 patients at the reception counter of the Hospitals."
The Division Bench of Chief Justice Ajay Kumar Mittal and Justice Vijay Kumar Shukla further observed that in case there is any overcharging by the Hospitals, it shall be brought to the notice of the District Administration and also to the High Court by filing an affidavit for taking necessary action in that regard.
The State has also been asked to ensure the publication (the aforesaid directions) of Public Notice in the newspaper .
Lastly, the court said,
"The State Government shall ensure strict compliance of the directions contained in the order passed today, in so far as it relates to action to be taken on their part forthwith." (emphasis supplied)
The background of the PIL
The High Court has given the aforesaid direction in the matter of 'In Reference (Suo Motu) vs. Union of India and others'.
It may be noted that based on a reference made by the Chief Justice of India, the Madhya Pradesh High Court on Friday (26-June-2020) took cognizance of a tragic incident in the state where an elderly man suffering from COVID was tied to a bed after he allegedly failed to make payment of fees for his treatment at a hospital in Shajapur District based on a letter written by Former Law Minister and Senior Advocate Dr. Ashwani Kumar.
The author of the said letter had requested that such acts amount to a violation of fundamental right i.e. right to live with dignity.
It may further be noted that on June 6, a viral video showed that an 80-year-old man was tied to the hospital bed, at Shajapur's City Hospital, after he and his family were unable to clear hospital bills for treatment of Covid-19.
The said letter was treated as Public Interest Litigation by the High Court as the matter was very serious in nature.
The matter has been further listed for hearing on 23.09.2020.
It may be noted that on 6th September a PIL was filed in the Madhya Pradesh High Court (Indore Bench) for issuance of the prerogative writ of mandamus or any other appropriate writ against erring hospitals in ill-treating a patient/deceased (Advocate Achla Joshi).
The petition was filed by Advocate Anil Ojha (Ex. President of High Court Bar Association, Indore) through Advocate Deepak Rawal after the death of Advocate Achla Joshi due to the alleged negligence of two hospitals in the city.
The application was moved through Advocate on Record Manisha T Karia in the ongoing Public Interest Litigation filed on behalf of Sachin Jain which has sought regulation of costs of treatment for Covid19 at private/corporate hospitals.
Also, in July, the Bombay High Court, while hearing a public interest litigation alleging that certain private hospitals were taking advantage of the prevailing pandemic and were charging for Personal Protective Equipment Kits much above the purchase price sought an affidavit in reply from the State.
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