The Gujarat High Court while taking suo moto cognizance has impleaded the Indian Council of Medical Research. The ICMR has to explain the rationale behind the COVID-19 testing policy. The Bench comprised of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice J. B. Pardiwala. The Bench raised certain questions;
- What is the Rationale behind its testing policy?
- In what manner the ICMR want the private hospitals/ laboratories to get accredited?
- What are the guidelines by ICMR with regard to the testing through the private laboratories?
- Whether the guidelines issued by the ICMR are statutory in nature?
- Are such guidelines binding on the State government or they are only recommendatory in nature?
- Whether without any prescription from any physician, an individual can go to a designated private hospital/ laboratory for the purpose of testing?
Applications were filed by the Ahmedabad Medical Association and Dr. Malay Devendra Patel. Explicitly, they challenged the order passed by the state government; prohibiting private hospitals from conducting testing without the approval of the designated health officials. Moreover, ICMR prescribes COVID-19 testing for certain category patients. Petitioners argued that it violates the fundamental rights of the citizens. In effect, the bench passed the directions.
Notably, the bench referred to the Navtej Singh Johar Judgement stating that “This court also has the power to impose positive obligations upon the State to take measures to provide adequate resources and access to treatment facilities to secure effective enjoyment of the right to health.” The matter is listed for hearing on June 19, 2020.