The High Court of Bombay imposed a cost of Rs 5 lakh on the petitioner seeking directions for free COVID treatment for all citizens of Maharashtra.
The bench comprising the Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice KK Tated was hearing a petition filed by Sagar Shivajirao Jondhale seeking directions to provide COVID treatment to all citizens of Maharashtra, totally free of cost in all hospitals, including private hospitals in Maharashtra, to notify uniform rates or charges for the treatment of patients of COVID in all the hospitals in Maharashtra, to provide 100% free treatment to COVID patients and to charge all the patients other than those suffering from COVID according to the Mahatma Jyotibha Phule Health Insurance Scheme.
The petitioner submitted that it is the duty and obligation of the State to provide for health and medicare services for all the citizens free of cost and that the State of Maharashtra has utterly failed to live up to the expectations of the people during this period of crises.
The bench however observed that there is no compulsion on any citizen to take treatment from private facilities. It is entirely left to the option of the patient as to which of the facilities he would prefer, i.e., facilities in private or public hospitals.
“It is settled law that the mechanics of price fixation is necessarily to be left to the judgment of the executive and unless it is patent that there is hostile discrimination against a class of persons, the processual basis of price fixation is to be accepted in the generality of cases to be valid”, observed the bench.
The bench further said that “to urge the Bench to direct the State to provide for treatment of a patient free of cost, in these circumstances, appears to us to be preposterous.”
While imposing a cost of Rs 5 lakh on the petitioner, the bench remarked “it is absolutely frivolous PIL Petition deserving dismissal in limine with exemplary costs.”
The bench directed that the said amount shall be utilized by the State for relief activities to ameliorate the plight of people in these difficult times.
-India Legal Bureau
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