A PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court for directing the Centre to make Coronavirus testing facilities free for all Indian citizens.
Shashank Deo Sudhi has filed the petition which states, inter alia, that there is an urgent need for ramping up testing facilities of COVID19 in light of the "escalating mortality" & "morbidity rate" across the country.
In light of this, petitioner has averred that the advisory issued by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on March 17, 2020, which has fixed the price of testing & screening kits of the deadly virus at INR 4500 in private labs and hospitals is "unreasonable", "discriminatory" & antithetical to Article 21 & 14 of the Constitution of India.
"That the Respondents are insensitive and indifferent to the plight of the common citizen of the country who are already financially burdened on account of completely locked down with no possibility of being unlocked in recent future. The financial suffering being caused by the respondent No.3 by issuance such arbitrary advisory dated 17.03.2020 fixing Rs 4500/- testing and confirming including screening of covid-19 in private hospitals/labs are discriminatory and unreasonable, depriving the accessibility of medical facilities to the common citizen violating the right to life guaranteed under article 21 of the Constitution of India"—the petition has averred.
Further to this, the petitioner seeks the Court's intervention in declaring the aforementioned advisory ultra-vires of the Constitution & prays for it to be struck down.
Emphasising the need for a "guarantee of legitimacy" in order to carry out tests, which if left unchecked, may be fatal, the petitioner contends that the Centre must ensure the tests be carried out in NABAL or ICMR accredited/registered pathological labs/diagnostic centers.
Furthermore, it is also prayed that all hospitals must ensure adequate facilities, non-shortage of ventilators & daily briefings to keep citizens abreast of important and useful information which must be telecast on TV channels daily.
According to the averments, the petitioner states that since the Government is unequipped to deal with the surging number of patients of COVD19, it is shifting its responsibilities towards private stakeholders "at the financial cost of the common people".
This in turn is against the constitutional duties cast on the government.