SC notice on plea citing over-charging by hospitals amid Covid

The Supreme Court on Friday sought the Centre’s response on a plea seeking directions to develop a mechanism to examine medical bills or complaints of patients, who were over-charged by private hospitals amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

A bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud, Vikram Nath, and B.V. Nagarathna noted that the matter raised is in the petition is important.

After hearing arguments in the matter, the bench issued notice on the petition. It said direction has been sought to set up a mechanism by Central government to scrutinise bills of patients who believe they have been over-charged. The petitioner had argued that amid Covid, patients had to take avail medical facilities of private hospitals, as the public healthcare infrastructure was burdened.

The bench said: “This concerns a wide strata of society. Issue notice, returnable after 4 weeks.”

The plea, which was filed under Article 32, relied upon the instance, where Pune Municipal Corporation had issued notice to hospitals for over-charging patients, who have complained of being over-charged.

The petitioner had made Union of India, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, state governments, and the Cabinet Secretary as respondents in the plea. However, the bench asked him to amend the plea to delete the Cabinet Secretary as a respondent.

The plea contended that there were instances of over-charging and patients, who were helpless in such a scenario, had to approach local bodies, which issued notice to private hospitals for over-charging patients.