While hearing the petition filed by Advocate Sachin Jain praying for cost-related regulations for the treatment of COVID-19 patients in private/corporate hospitals on May 27, 2020, the Bench of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy directed the Centre to identify private charitable hospitals which can treat COVID-19 patients for free or at a very nominal cost.
The SC also sought to know whether private hospitals which were built on government land can provide free treatment to COVID-19 patients. In this regard, the Court has asked the Central Government to file its response to the petition within a week, when Solicitor General Tushar Mehta asked for one week to file a reply.
In its May 14, 2020 order, in the suo motu case in the wake of COVID-19 hardships of people, the Gujarat High Court had directed the States that at any cost, private hospitals should not be permitted to charge exorbitant amounts for treatment of COVID-19.
Again in its May 22, 2020 order, it came to their lordships notice, that some of the private hospitals in Ahmedabad were not complying Ahmedabad Commissioners order of reserving 50% beds in hospitals for COVID-19 patients referred by government, the Gujarat HC had found recuse in Delhi HC judgment of 2007, Social Jurists, A Lawyers Group vs. Government of NCT of Delhi and others reported in (2007) 140 DLT 698 (DB) which is also cited by Advocate Sachin Jain in his present petition before the SC.
In paragraph no. 95 of the judgment in Social Jurists case, the Court had held that,
“No right exists without any obligation and no obligation can be dissected from the duty tagged with it. Right should correlate to a duty. The wider interpretations given to Article 21 read with Article 47 of the Constitution of India are not only meant for the State but they are equally true for all who are placed at an advantageous situation because of the help or allotment of vital assets. Such assets would be impossible to be gathered in a city like Delhi where the land is not available in feet, much less in acres, which the State at the cost of its own projects had provided land at concessional rates to these hospitals. The principle of equality, fairness, and equity would command these hospitals to discharge their obligations of free patient treatment to poor strata of Delhi.”