HC relief to private UP hospital restrained from treating COVID patients for overcharging
Allahabad: In a major relief to a private hospital, the Allahabad High Court, citing a huge spike in covid cases, on Monday, laid aside an order of Chief Medical Officer, Varanasi that prevented the facility to treat Covid-19 patients on grounds of overcharging.
A Division Bench comprising of Justices Surya Prakash Kesarwani and Syed Aftab Rizvi was hearing a writ petition filed by the hospital seeking relief against the restraining orders passed by the CMO Varanasi and permission to run the hospital as a designated hospital L-3 for the treatment of Covid-19 Patients.
The bench observed that it senseless to obstruct the working of the said hospital under present circumstances when there is a spike rise in Covid-19 patients in the State of Uttar Pradesh particularly in districts Varanasi, Lucknow, Allahabad and Kanpur.
Notably, the UP Government had issued a Circular on September 10, 2020, to all the District Magistrates and Chief Medical Officers, regulating the fees for Covid-19 treatment.
An upper limit was fixed at Rs10,000, 15,000 and 18000 for Moderate Sickness, Severe Sickness, Very Severe Sickness respectively in all NABH accredited hospitals while the Non-NABH accredited Hospitals were asked to charge not more than Rs 8000, 13000, and 15000 for Moderate Sickness, Severe Sickness, Very Severe Sickness respectively
The court noted:
"This Court take judicial notice of the fact that presently there is a spike rise in Covid-19 patients in the State of Uttar Pradesh particularly in districts Varanasi, Lucknow, Allahabad and Kanpur. In Government Hospitals adequate beds are not available to accommodate the Covid-19 patients for their treatment. The Government itself is engaging various private nursing homes and hospitals for treatment of Covid-19 patients. Under the circumstances, the impugned order does not appeal to reason that the petitioner's hospital itself be restrained from giving treatment to Covid-19 patients, merely on the allegation of a patient that some excessive amount was charged by it from him."
It is worthwhile to note that the CMO, Varanasi, acting on a complaint of overcharging, issued a notice dated 22.08.2020 to the hospital asking for explanation to which the hospital submitted a detailed explanation dated 25.08.2020
However, the court noted that the gag orders were passed even without considering the reply and without recording that what the amount has been found by him to have been charged excessively by the petitioner's hospital.
The hospital had the required permissions for treatment of Covid-19 patients and to use 20 beds for L1, 15 beds for L2, 15 beds for L3 Covid-19 patients.
Quashing the restraining orders, the Court also gave liberty to the authorities to pass fresh orders under the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897 and the Uttar Pradesh Epidemic Disease Covid-19 Regulations 2020, while taking into account the prevailing situation in the state.
the Bench said in the facts of the case,
"Liberty is granted to the competent authority to pass an order afresh, in accordance with law, under the Epidemic Diseases, Act 1897 and the Uttar Pradesh Epidemic Disease Covid-19 Regulations 2020, if still required under the prevailing situations, after affording opportunity of hearing to the petitioners."
To access the official order, click on the link below-