The Delhi High Court Thursday pulled up the Delhi government over its decision to exclude non-Delhi patients from seeking treatment at Guru Teg Bahadur (GTB) Hospital, saying it was a “violation” of an individual’s “right to healthcare” under the law.
A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao said it was not in favour of the Delhi government’s circular on a pilot project, under which residents of Delhi are to be given preference over non-Delhi patients. “I am inclined to stay the same (circular). You either keep abeyance or I will not permit the same,” the bench remarked.
Sensing the bench was not in their favour, the Delhi government’s counsel submitted that they would not deny treatment to out-patients and make testing facilities available for them. The submission was made by Delhi government’s senior standing counsel Rahul Mehra, who pleaded before the court not to pass interim directions and take up the matter on October 8, when it will place the facts on record. The court was hearing a PIL moved by NGO Social Jurist, through advocate Ashok Agarwal, opposing the pilot project initiated by the Delhi government at GTB Hospital.
The plea challenged the government’s October 1 circular allegedly denying treatment to non-Delhi resident patients at the hospital in Dilshad Garden. Agarwal claimed that thousands of patients coming from outside Delhi and those not possessing a voter ID card of Delhi were being denied treatment at the hospital subsequent to issuance of the circular.
The NGO, in its plea, said the hospital cannot discriminate against patients based on their regional identity and added that such discrimination was not there anywhere else in the country. The proposal to give preference to residents of Delhi at GTB Hospital was approved in August by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.