Govt can go for reasonable restrictions on testing, Gujarat HC told

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By: Express News Service | Ahmedabad | Published: June 19, 2020 8:12:45 am

Gujarat High Court, Gujarat coronavirus cases, Gujarat coronavirus testing, India news, Indian Express In a Gujarat High Court order of May 29, the division bench hearing the PIL asked if “any pathological test or diagnosis is… one of the facets of the right to health as embodied in Article 21 of the Constitution of India”.

THE GUJARAT government on Thursday told the Gujarat High Court that the government was empowered to impose “reasonable restrictions in larger public interest” on Covid-19 testing, though the Constitution has broadly guaranteed the right of the citizens to get tested under the fundamental right to health.

In a report filed in response to the suo motu public interest litigation (PIL) regarding Covid-19 related matters, the state government also refuted reports on negligence in its hospitals and attributed the deaths to “co-morbidities”. The PIL had raised several questions on testing policies and the state’s jurisdiction on the same.

In a Gujarat High Court order of May 29, the division bench hearing the PIL asked if “any pathological test or diagnosis is… one of the facets of the right to health as embodied in Article 21 of the Constitution of India”.

The state submitted that if “health” and “medical care” are considered in an expansive manner, then “pathological tests/diagnosis would certainly be one of the facets of the right to health…” “However, just like the fundamental rights conferred under Article 19, this fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution is also not an absolute right and is subject to reasonable restrictions,” it said.

The report said the state government can “never evolve a policy, whether or not based on the guidelines issued by ICMR, contrary to the fundamental rights of its citizens…” although it is “duly empowered to impose reasonable restrictions, as it deems fit, in the larger public interest”.

The government added that “it is always desirable to have a uniform central policy like ICMR policy, specially during pandemic situation like the present one, to be followed consistently by all the states…”.

‘Deaths due to comorbidity’

To the May 29 order of the HC, which expressed its concerns over media reports that Covid patients were losing life as they were not being provided with proper care and attention, the state’s report exhorted that “sufficient care is being taken… and no negligence has ever been shown…”

Patients who have co-morbid conditions and old age succumb “despite sufficient care and treatment” and it was “not because of any negligence or lack of care and treatment”, the government said. “The unconfirmed reports so far published in the print and digital media in this behalf, should not be believed as gospel truth,” it added.

‘Severe cases decline’

The state government’s report said that for the past one week, number of severe cases needing hospitalisation was declining, which is correspondingly reducing the occupancy of beds in Covid hospitals. The phenomenon was common to all the government, municipal as well as private hospitals, where there has been significant decline in the number of occupied beds, it said.

To deal with anticipated shortage of beds in the coming days in private hospitals, especially for critical patients, the hospitals and nursing homes in Ahmedabad have come up with a ‘Home Care’ plan for patients with mild to moderate symptoms of Covid-19. Nearly 35 private hospitals and nursing homes in the city have agreed to offer this chargeable home care service, while seven hospitals launched this on Tuesday. day.

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