The court observed it was preposterous to seek such directions at a time when the country is struggling to combat and contain the spread of the .

MUMBAI Updated: Jun 16, 2020 17:28 IST

A file photo of Bombay high court.
A file photo of Bombay high court. (HT photo)

The Bombay high court has imposed a cost of Rs5 lakh on an educationist who had sought directions to the state to bear the cost of treating all Covid-19 patients in hospitals across Maharashtra.

The court observed it was preposterous to seek such directions at a time when the country is struggling to combat and contain the spread of the virus.

A division bench of chief justice Dipanka Datta and justice S S Shinde was hearing public interest litigations filed by educationist Jondhale and Sarika Singh, a resident of Kurla. The petitions had said the government should be directed to provide free Covid-19 treatment at all hospitals, including private facilities, across Maharashtra.

Advocate Anand Jondhale, who appeared for Jondhale, and advocate Varsha Jagdale, who represented Singh, argued that though an official notification dated May 21 had requisitioned 80% of beds in private hospitals and nursing homes for treating Covid-19 patients, the charges that hospitals could seek from patients was resulting in profiteering in the absence of any clear orders.

The advocates said the notification allowed hospitals to charge separately for pharmacy and pathology services, which was affecting patients. They said the notification should be declared null and void.

The petitioners asked the court to direct the state government to provide free Covid-19 treatment to all citizens in all hospitals, including private institutions, except to those covered by insurance schemes.

Advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, along with government pleader Poornima Kantharia, said that due to the magnitude of Covid-19 cases, the prayers of the petitioners were unfounded as the state could not be expected to pay for treatment of all patients.

Kumbhakoni said the state is taking all measures to ensure that testing and treatment for the Coronavirus is available to everyone, and the demand for free treatment by the petitioners was misplaced. He said the PILs should be dismissed with costs.

After hearing the submissions, the court observed that the demands of the petitioners were frivolous and preposterous and dismissing the PIL filed by Jondhale and directed him to deposit Rs5 lakh with the state government as costs. The court asked Singh whether she wanted to withdraw her PIL and posted the matter for hearing on June 19.

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