Supreme Court dismisses plea seeking free test, treatment for coronavirus infection

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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Tuesday dismissed a plea seeking direction to the Centre, all states and Union territories to provide free of cost treatment for coronavirus infection till Covid-19 pandemic is contained, saying it is for the government to take a call on it. “Government has to decide on who to give free treatment. We do not have any funds with us,” a bench headed by Justice N V Ramana said.

“Do not create publicity interest litigation,” the bench, also comprising Justices S K Kaul and B R Gavai, said.

The bench, which heard the matter through video-conferencing, observed that government hospitals across the country are giving free treatment to coronavirus infected patients.

“We think this case should close,” it said.
The top court was hearing a plea filed by Delhi-based advocate Amit Dwivedi who had sought a direction to the authorities and others, including health care facilities, to “conduct tests, all subsequent tests, procedures and treatments in relation to Covid-19 disease free of cost for all citizens of India” till the pandemic is contained.

The apex court had earlier refused to entertain another prayer made in Dwivedi’s plea seeking direction to the Centre, all the states and union territories to nationalise all healthcare facilities and related entities till the pandemic is contained in India.

The Centre had earlier told the apex court that government has taken appropriate steps to provide adequate health facilities to all the citizens.

The plea had claimed that public health sector in India has remained in “shambles due to low budgetary allowances” but at the same time, private health care sector has seen “tremendous growth”.

“India does not have sufficient public health care infrastructure to combat a pandemic like Covid-19 and as a last resort India needs to take help of private health care sector,” the plea had said.

It had said that healthcare facilities should be provided free of cost to contain the spread of coronavirus and provide quality treatment and care to the citizens.

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