The Supreme Court has asked that no patient be turned down hospitalization or necessary drugs in any State or Union Territory for the absence of local residential proof of that State or Union Territory or even in the lack of identity proof. The Court has asked the Central Government to shape a uniform national policy on hospital admissions within two weeks which shall be followed by all the hospitals in the country. The Hon’ble Court has also asked the Central Government to correct the shortage in liquid medical oxygen supply for the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi on or before midnight of May 3rd. A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, L Nageswara Rao, and S Ravindra Bhat passed the order in the suo moto case for Re-Distribution of Essential Services and Supplies During Pandemic. The order was private after a day-long hearing on 30th April which was released on Sunday night.
The other important directions in the order are :
Make ready the buffer stock for oxygen
Government should, in collaboration with the States, prepare a buffer stock of oxygen for emergency purposes and decentralize the location of the emergency stocks. The emergency stocks shall be devised within the next four days and are to be restored on a day-to-day basis, in addition to the existing issuance of oxygen supply to the States.
No censor on social media SOS calls for COVID help
Government of Center and State Governments shall inform all Chief Secretaries/Directors General of Police/Commissioners of Police that any censor on particulars on social media platform or harassment caused to individuals seeking/delivering help on any platform will captivate a forcible exercise of jurisdiction by this Court. The judicial registrar is also directed to place a copy of this order before all District Magistrates in the country.
National policy on hospital admissions
The Government of Centre shall, within two weeks, articulate a national policy on admissions to hospitals which shall be adhered to by all State Governments as well. Till the articulation of such a strategy by the Central Government, no patient shall be contravened hospitalization or essential drugs in any State/UT for the absence of local residential proof of that State/UT are in the absence of identity proof;
Reanalyze vaccine protocol
The Government shall reanalyze its action and convention, including on the accessibility of oxygen, accessibility, and pricing of vaccines, availability of essential drugs at economical prices in the light of the concerns raised by the bench.
While the hearing, the Court had presented queries to the bench relating to the compulsory licensing of COVID vaccines and drugs and also the rationale behind COVID vaccination policy allowing distinctive pricing for centers and states.
Vaccine policy prima facie violates Article 21
The Court observed that the way in which the Centre’s current Vaccine policy has been compassed would prima facie result in a detriment to the right to public health which is an essential component of Article 21 of the Constitution.