A division bench of J. Ashok Bhushan and J. Ravindra S Bhat has passed an important order in the PIL filed by Shashank Deo Sudhi. Filed on 31.03.2020, the PIL challenged the advisory issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to cap the cost of the COVID-19 testing in private labs as Rs 4500. It sought a direction to the Centre and concerned authorities to provide free testing facilities to all the people. The petition urged the court referring to “the rising mortality and morbidity rate across the country“.
On 08.04.2020, the division bench held “private Labs to charge Rs.4500 for testing of COVID-19 may not be within means of a large part of population of this country and no person be deprived to undergo the COVID-19 test due to non-payment of capped amount of Rs.4500.” The bench stated that it found prima facie substance in the submissions of the petitioner.
Thereafter, the bench passed an important interim order making tests related to COVID-19 free of cost irrespective of the ownership of the labs. The bench commented that private labs should extend philanthropic services in this time of crisis. Additionally, the apex court directed that the COVID-19 tests must be carried out in NABL accredited Labs or any agencies approved by WHO or ICMR.