The Supreme Court ruled that private hospitals in Delhi, allotted land at subsidized rates, cannot do away with the mandatory requirement of providing free treatment to 25 percent OPD and 10 percent IPD patients from the economically weaker sections (EWS) category. A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra set aside the April 28, 2014, order of the Delhi High Court by which the mandatory requirements were quashed. The court said any violation in agreement between the hospitals and the government, according to which beds were to be reserved for patients of the EWS category, might lead to cancellation of lease. Advocate Ashok Aggarwal, who represented NGO Social Jurist, said the details of the verdict are awaited, but the bench in its pronouncement reversed the high court’s order.
Four hospitals — Moolchand Hospital, St Stephen’s Hospital, Rockland Hospital, and the Sitaram Bhartia Institute of Science and Research — had approached the Delhi High Court in 2012 against orders issued by the Delhi government and the Land and Development Office (L&DO) of the Union Ministry of Urban Development by which provisions of lease granted to hospitals were amended. The hospitals had contented before the high court in 2014 that the conditions of the lease could have been modified only if the existing lease deeds or the statute under which they were created had a condition that they could be amended. “Whilst the state’s effort to maximize area of public health system at no cost or minimum cost is undeniably in public interest, such objective has to be achieved through the route of legislation.
“In the present case, the route taken by the respondent is not accurate,” the court had said. It had said that submission of the Center and the Delhi government is untenable that all those who are beneficiaries of allotment or leases at concessional rates and in whose cases, neither the allotment letter nor the lease deed contained any requirement to provide free medical facilities, were nevertheless obliged to extend such benefits. “Whilst the State’s effort to maximize access to public health systems at no cost or minimum cost is undeniably in the public interest, such objective has to be achieved within the framework of the Constitution, through the route of legislation”, it had said. The court had said in the present case, the route taken by the respondent (government) does not accord with the Constitution. – Business Standard