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Private hospitals/ laboratories have to conduct free testing of COVID-19 - reimbursement shall be considered afterwards; SC.

Supreme Court of India

Justice Ashok Bhushan & Justice S. Ravindra Bhat

The SC on April 08, 2020 {SHASHANK DEO SUDHI v. UNION OF INDIA & ORS.} held that there is prima facie substance in the submission of petitioner that at this time of national calamity permitting private Labs to charge Rs.4500 for screening and confirmation test of COVID-19 may not be within means of a large part of population of this country and no person be deprived to undergo the COVID-19 test due to non-payment of capped amount of Rs. 4500. 

It was further held that the private hospitals including Laboratories have an important role to play in containing the scale of pandemic by extending  philanthropic services in the hour of national crisis. It was held that the petitioner has made out a case for issuing a direction to the respondents to issue necessary direction to accredited private Labs to conduct free of cost COVID-19 test. It was lastly held that the question as to whether the private Laboratories carrying free of cost COVID-19 tests are entitled for any reimbursement of expenses incurred shall be considered later on.

Accordingly following directions were issued by the SC:

"We, thus, issue following interim directions to the respondents:

(i) The tests relating to COVID-19 whether in approved Government Laboratories or approved private Laboratories shall be free of cost. The respondents shall issue necessary direction in this regard immediately.

(ii) Tests relating to COVID-19 must be carried out in NABL accredited Labs or any agencies approved by WHO or ICMR."

Now henceforth the testing of COVID-19 has to free of cost, irrespective of where it is done in India.

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