SC directs Health Ministry to consider centralized portal for hospitalization, medicines
Nagpur: The Supreme Court has directed the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) to look into suggestions, given by a petitioner, like development of a centralized portal to disseminate real time information regarding essential 'Covid commodities' to ensure uniformity and transparency and to curb black marketing and hoarding of supplies.
The PIL was filed by city-based pharmacist Arunpal Singh Behal, who himself pleaded the case after filing he petition as the president of the SFS School Old Boys' Association.
The petitioner, in his plea submitted that in second wave, people faced shortage of essentials which resulted in black marketing and sale of fake medicines. He mentioned about no uniform distribution of medicines and single reliable source for genuine products, adding that system giving updated information was absent. Further, total chaos with people struggling for beds, oxygen, medicines etc.
He suggested common portal or app solution to problems, which the government can monitor it. He added that portal/app will also ensure genuine, timely and updated info. He also mentioned that suppliers and consumers should be registered. "Portal/app a modification of GST portal and Co-win app," he suggested in this submission.
The bench comprising judges DY Chandrachud, Vikram Nath and Hima Kohli, In the order dated September 9, noted,
"Petitioner Behal, who appeared in person, suggested under Article 32 of the Constitution instituted during the course of the second wave of the pandemic that maintaining a centralized portal to disseminate real time information regarding essential 'Covid commodities' to ensure uniformity and transparency and to curb black marketing and hoarding of supplies. Since the petitioner has some suggestions, it would be appropriate to grant him liberty to move the ministry of health and family welfare for considering the suggestions, including the need for a centralized portal. His suggestions may be duly looked into at the appropriate level. The petition is disposed of as withdrawn, with the aforesaid liberty."
Behal told TOI that he has prepared a memorandum and will soon approach MoHFW for development of a centralized portal.
"Our association has worked tirelessly during the first and second wave. We were able to help many people with hospitalization and supply of medicines. During the peak of the second wave, we felt helpless in managing beds as only a select few were getting them. Also, we were helpless when it came to supply of medicines as rampant black marketing prevailed at that time. Also, fake medicines were sold due to shortage. Laboratories and radiology centres charged different prices for the same tests. There is a centralized portal to get vaccinated at a government or private centre. Therefore, a centralized portal for hospitalization, medicines, tests etc is also possible. There should be one portal for the entire nation for medical services," he said.
Behal added, "I'm from the pharma field but had to file the petition as people lost their hard earned money due to lack of a proper policy, mismanagement by the government and the centralized portal. I have a franchisee of surgical instruments but will fight at any level to give justice to the people."