In a huge relief, the Supreme Court on April 8 issued interim directions to the Centre to make COVID-19 testing in all government and private laboratories free of cost.
The directions from the apex court followed a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the government’s decision to fix the cost of the COVID-19 testing in private labs as Rs 4,500.
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and S Ravindra Bhat directed the Centre to issue necessary directions to ensure that testing in approved government or private labs across the country is made free for all. The court has also given the Centre two weeks to file a response.
In its order, the SC said, “The private hospitals including laboratories have an important role to play in containing the scale of pandemic by extending philanthropic services in the hour of national crisis.”
It added, “The question as to whether the private laboratories carrying free of cost COVID-19 tests are entitled for any reimbursement of expenses incurred shall be considered later on.”
The court noted that tests for COVID-19 should be carried out in laboratories accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) or any agencies approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) or the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).