The Supreme Court of India recently ruled that Delhi’s private hospitals operating on subsidized government lands will have to provide free treatment to patients belonging to economically weaker strata of the society.
“……..when the State largesse is being enjoyed by these hospitals in the form of land beside, it is their obligation by the very nature of the medical services to extend the reciprocal obligation to the public by providing free treatment as envisaged in the impugned order. In case they want to wriggle out of it and not to comply with it, they have to surrender the land and orge out the benefit which they have received by virtue of holding the Government land in an aforesaid manner”, the Court said.
The Court mentioned that there was no necessity of enacting a law, as the policy/rules under which the land has been obtained, the hospitals were obligated to render free treatment as the land was allotted to them for earning no profit and held in trust for public good.
Criticizing private hospitals for operating like commercial centers, the Court said “instances have come to notice when a dead body is kept as security for clearance of bills of hospitals which is per se illegal and criminal act. In future, whenever such an act is reported to the police, it is supposed to register a case against management of Hospital and all concerned doctors involved in such inhumane act”.
The Court also directed the Government of NCT of Delhi to file a periodical report with the Court with respect to compliance of its order by the hospitals.