Published On : Wed, Jul 21st, 2021

SC upholds Nagpur HC ruling, rejects Maha plea on capping rates for non-Covid patients

Nagpur: The Supreme Court has upheld the decision of Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court quashing the Maharashtra Government notifications regulating the rates chargeable by private hospitals and nursing homes to non-Covid patients.

On October 23, last year, the Nagpur High Court had said the Maharashtra Government does not have powers to frame any law or issue any notification regulating the rates chargeable by private hospitals and nursing homes to non-Covid patients. The High Court found no legislative competence in State Government to issue such notifications and also held it to be violative of fundamental rights of medical practitioners and hospital owners.

A Division Bench of the Supreme Court consisting of Justice Dhananjay Chandrachud and Justice M R Shah while refusing to interfere with the High Court, made it clear that the State Government cannot issue such notifications at a time when it has no infrastructure to treat non-Covid patients at government hospitals. “Non-COVID patients are bound to move to private hospitals when you don’t have necessary infrastructure,” the Supreme Court noted while refusing to interfere with impugned order.

The High Court decision authored by Justice Ravi Deshpande and Justice Pushpa Ganediwala in a petition filed by Dr Pradeep Arora and Vidarbha Hospital Association had virtually rejected all justifications put forth by the State Government to justify its effort to put cap on or regulating the rates chargeable by the private hospitals for Non-COVID patients and had quashed a portion of April 30 and May 21 notifications related to non-Covid patients in private hospitals. Similar order issued by the Municipal Commissioner on June 4 was also set aside.

At the outset, advocate Rahul Chitnis, appearing for the Maharashtra government, said the state has filed an appeal against the October 23, last year order of the High Court quashing the notifications relating to capping of price of treatment for non-Covid patients.

Through the notifications, the State Government prescribed a rate card for private hospitals and nursing homes while treating non-Covid patients. The notifications said private hospitals and nursing homes are required to keep 80 per cent of their beds reserved to treat Covid-19 patients and the remaining 20 per cent could be used to treat non-Covid patients.

The Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court had further held that the Epidemic Diseases Act, Disaster Management Act and Covid Regulations do not empower the State Government to issue directions in relation to non-Covid patients being treated in private hospitals and nursing homes.

Adv Rahul Chitnis appeared for the State Government while Dr Pradeep Arora appeared in person.