Telangana High Court on Tuesday issued notices to the State government, the Centre and four private hospitals in Hyderabad in a PIL petition over lack of transparency in treatment and billing of COVID-19 patients.

A bench of Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy directed Advocate General B.S. Prasad to file a counter affidavit in response to the petition. The bench ordered that ‘emergent notices’ be issued to the Chief Medical Officer of the State Council of Clinical Establishment (Medical and Health department) along with the private hospitals of Medicover-HiTec City, Yashoda-Raj Bhavan, Sunshine-Secunderabad and Care-Banjara Hills.

The AG sought one week to file the counter affidavit while Assistant Solicitor General of India N. Rajeshwar Rao accepted notices on behalf of the Centre. Posting the hearing to July 14, the bench sought explanation of all the respondents over the points raised by the petitioner.

A lawyer, Srikishan Sharma, filed the petition stating that in the backdrop of rampant spread of coronavirus cases, the governments were not ensuring the enforcement of different provisions of the Disaster Management Act-2005, the Clinical Establishment (Registration and Regulation) Act-2010 and the Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulation-2002. The lawyer told the bench that not implementing sections of these laws was illegal and unconstitutional.

The bench sought to know from the government if it had initiated any action against Thumbe Hospital in Chaderghat from where a doctor of Fever Hospital, Asra Sultana, was not discharged for nearly two days over payment of bill. Citing media reports, the bench said the hospital management reportedly refused to discharge the doctor until she paid ₹1.4 lakh towards charges for COVID-19 treatment.

“This is a matter of grave concern. On one hand, government issued a GO clearly stating a particular sum to be charged for treatment of COVID-19 patients and on the other, private hospitals are flouting rules,” the bench observed and hoped that action is initiated against the hospital. The bench called for a report from the government by July 14 if no action is taken against the hospital.

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