April 10, 2020
by Rajas Salpekar
This interim order of the Supreme Court came in response to a petition file by advocate Shashank Deo Sudhi challenging the Mach 7 advisory issued by the ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) which affixed a price of Rs. 4,500 for screening and confirming covid-19 cases by private testing labs.
A division judge bench comprising of Justices Ashok Bhushan and S. Ravindra Bhat agreed that keeping a fee as high as Rs 4500 will make undergoing Corona screening unaffordable for a large number of people and thus found for the petitioner.
However, solicitor general, Tushar Mehta arguing on behalf of the state stated that the government had to rope in private labs because there were not enough government testing facilities and therefore additional47 chains of private labs were certified and roped-in by the government. The bench replied to this contention that philanthropic treatment of people by private labs was need of the hour and thus held that tests should be done free of cost.
Thus, the Apex Court has issued an interim order advocating free Corona tests and given the government a time of two weeks to file a reply. The SC also said that the question of compensation to the private labs will be discussed later.