Fundamental Rights, under Part III of the Indian Constitution, guarantee the imperishable safeguards of a citizen’s inherent rights which cannot be encroached upon by the State. These rights are elaborated for the purpose of securing individual liberty and to ensure equality for all citizens on democratic principles. Of all these Fundamental Rights available, Article 21 speaks about the Rights to Life and Liberty that are underlying to every citizen. The Courts, by way of its interpretations, further elaborate on the definition of life and liberty to include various other rights which would fall within the purview of Article 21.
In a letter addressed to the Chief Justice of India and the Judges of the Supreme Court of India, the issue regarding safeguarding of a Citizen’s Right to Health was addressed by Shirin Syed, who teaches law and is currently pursuing her PhD at the North Maharashtra University, Maharashtra. In the letter, emphasis was laid on the urgent intervention of the Supreme Court in protection of the Right to Health under Article 21 of the Constitution. Giving reference to the case of Consumer Education and Resource Centre v. Union of India, the Right to Health and medical care was declared as an essential feature to making the life of a citizen meaningful and purposeful to the dignity of all persons. Giving reference to the statistics on expenditure and actual share of the government on health care, it was bought to the notice of the Hon’ble Court of the lack of proper public health infrastructure, which in turn, leads to a situation of creating a shift in preference of the citizens from public healthcare to private healthcare.
With recent cases of exorbitant billing by private sector hospitals supplemented with the deaths of the patients, reference was placed on the data released by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority which highlighted the hike in pricing charged by private hospitals. The letter further addressed the need for judicial intervention in the Central Clinical Establishment Act (CEA) regarding the regulate hospitals bills through ceiling on prices of procedure, consultation charges, diagnostic tests, all essential and life-saving medicines, consumables and diagnostics.
Concluding with the issues addressed in the letter, Ms. Syed further stated that the right to life with dignity and right to life, in totality, was being hampered by the exploitation of the patients due to lack of any regulation of prices on healthcare charges by the private hospitals.
(This extract is merely a summary of the letter written by Ms. Syed and is being shared for informative purposes. These are not the personal opinions of this organization and in no manner, reflect the views of this organization nor indicate to assume any responsibility or liability of the same.)
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