The Supreme Court on Wednesday evening has issued interim directions to make the tests relating to COVID-19 whether in approved Government Laboratories or approved private Laboratories free of cost. The government has been directed to issue necessary direction in this regard immediately.
The court further held that the tests relating to Covid-19 must be carried out in NABL accredited Labs or any agencies approved by WHO or ICMR.
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, the order stated.
The two judge bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and S Ravindra Bhat held in their order that the court agrees with the argument put forth by the 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 should be deprived to undergo the Covid-19 test due to non-payment of capped amount of Rs.4500.
The court observed in it’s order that government laboratories are conducting free Covid-19 test as of now.
The Government has been given two weeks time to file an affidavit.
The petition was filed on 31 March and had sought directions from the Apex court to pass directions for free testing of Covid-19 virus for all Indian citizens. Directions have also been sought to ramp up the testing facility at urgent basis in view of the “escalating mortality and morbidity rate across the country”
The petition has challenged the advisory issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on 17 March fixing the testing of Covid at private labs and hospitals at Rs. 4500.