Observing that no state action can be validated that results in avoiding or dealing the access of medical assistance to patients in dire need of treatment, the Telangana High Court on May 14th 2021 stayed the guidelines issued by the state government prohibiting interstate travel of ambulances and patients.
The guidelines issued by the state government on May 11th 2021 commanded that the patients who are a part of the other states are required to apply in a prescribed format to a control room set up by the government and they are prohibited from entering the state for hospitalization do the time the theme is issued authorization.
“No state action can be validated that results in avoiding or dealing access to medical assistance when a patient is in a dire need of such a treatment. This would amount to violating the sacrosanct right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the constitution and operate as a fetter on the right of a citizen of this country to move freely throughout the territory of India as enshrined in article 19 (1)(d) of the constitution of India”, observed the division bench chaired by Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy.
The division bench also observed that “we are of the prima facie view that the impugned guidelines issued by the respondents No. 1 and 2/ state government will result in creating obstacles for Covid 19 patients belonging to other states, entering the state of Telangana for hospitalization.
A former IRS officer, Garimella Venkata Krishna Rao, filed a PIL and challenged the actions of the state government by stopping ambulance vehicles at the state border as being violated of Article 21 of the constitution and also the national disaster management act. The High Court observation was a reply to this PIL.
The media reports showing that the state government was restricting the entry of ambulances plying from state of Andhra Pradesh into the state of Telangana were also focused.
The petition included that the above mentioned actions are contrary to the orders issued by Ministry of Home Affairs on April 29th 2021, National Policy for Admission in Hospital under section 10 clause 2 of the Disaster Management Act issued by the state government-wide order on May 8th 2021. The Apex Court also directed that no patient shall be denied admission on the grounds that he or she is unable to produce an identity card which doesn't belong to the city the patient is located.
Advocate Srinivas Dammalapati claimed that the action of the state is an illegal attempt to prohibit interstate travel of ambulances and patients thereby violating article 19 and 21 of the Indian Constitution.
The court observed that the guidelines impose an unreasonable restriction on residents of the other state seeking admission and ordered that “The constitution contemplates establishment of a welfare state, both at the federal level and the state level where the foremost duty of the government is to provide adequate facilities for its people.This not only includes establishing and running healthcare facilities right from the primary healthcare centers to hospitals and referral institutions of medicine, but also encompasses the right of a citizen to access and avail such medical facilities unhindered by any rules, procedures and guidelines that would result in depriving a patient of medical facilities.
The court advised the state not to take any other methods or issuing any fresh guidelines which can result in encumbering the interstate travel of ambulances carrying Covid patients from neighboring states for hospitalization or insisting upon persons applying in a prescribed format to the control room set up for tying up with the hospitals in the state for purpose of covid admissions.
It was also clarified by the bench that if any patient or his attendant, of his own free will and volition and for his own convenience opts to approach control room set up by respondents number 1 and 2 so as to tie up with the hospital situated in Telangana for Covid 19 admission, the said control room can render appropriate assistance for the patient attending. But no authorization from the control room would be required for any patient or attendant to travel into the state of Telangana looking for hospitalization for treatment of COVID-19 infection.