Medical treatment has to be provided to all citizens by government hospitals in the national capital irrespective of the patient’s place of residence, the Delhi High Court said on Tuesday, observing hospitals cannot insist on “voter ID”.
Justice Prathiba M. Singh, while hearing a petition by a Bihar resident who alleged the city government-run Lok Nayak Hospital provided free MRI test facility only to the residents of Delhi, said hospitals cannot deny treatment to those coming from outside.
The Delhi government assured there was no discrimination by the hospital on the basis of a patient’s place of residence as alleged by the petitioner.
“They (hospital) can’t insist on voter ID here….For hospitals, either AIIMS or any other hospital in Delhi, you cannot stop citizens from outside coming (and seeking treatment),” the court said.
“A perusal of the judgement of this court … makes it very clear that insofar as health treatment is concerned, the treatment has to be provided to all citizens without any consideration as to their place of residence,” added the court.
Delhi government counsel Satyakam said there was nothing on record to show that the petitioner was asked to furnish his voter ID, adding the dates for MRI were given as per the status of availability.
He also said the MRI scan of the petitioner’s left knee will also be conducted. The court took on record the stand of the Delhi government and directed that the petitioner’s MRI shall be conducted on December 26 at 11 a.m.
The petitioner, represented by lawyer Ashok Agarwal, contended the hospital adopted a “discriminatory approach” against those who did not belong to Delhi and so the petitioner was given a date in July 2024 for the MRI scan of his knee.
The petitioner claimed although all state funded hospitals are obliged to provide free treatment to any person approaching them, people possessing voter ID cards of Delhi were given “quick treatment” and outsiders were handed “long dates for check-up” at the hospital in question.
“The respondent hospital has given a 15.07.2024 date for MRI (L) Knee test because the petitioner is resident of Bihar and not of Delhi. It is done under a written or unwritten policy of the respondent Government of NCT of Delhi,” the petition claimed.
The petition said the patient again went to the OPD at the hospital on November 21 and December 5, 2022 with his X-Ray report. After seeking the report, the doctor advised him to get an MRI of the knee done outside the hospital.
“It was also informed by the Doctor that free of cost MRI test facility is available to resident of Delhi only who possess voter Id Card of Delhi and others have to take the test at their own cost,” the petition claimed.
It said the action of the hospital authorities was “totally arbitrary, discriminatory, without authority in law and violated the Constitution of India”.
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