SC issues notice to Centre on plea seeking free COVID-19 testing facility


New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Central government on public interest litigation (PIL) seeking directions for providing free of cost COVID-19 testing facility to citizens at private and government testing labs.

A bench headed by Justice L Nageshwar Rao and also comprising Justice Deepak Gupta, which heard the PIL through video conferencing, issued notices to the Union of India and sought its response on the matter.

The apex court, while hearing the petition filed by advocate Shashank Deo Sudhi, issued notice to respondents with direction to the petitioner to serve the copy of the petition to the Solicitor General through e-mail.

The petitioner argued to provide free coronavirus testing to all citizens irrespective of their financial status across the country.

“The ultimate aim of testing is to contain the spread of the deadly virus in the society and for this, the government is also taking various appreciate steps including lockdown. If free testing is not conducted, then all government’s efforts will be forfeited,” Sudhi told the court.

The petition sought directions to all the respondents, including the Union of India (UOO), the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and others for ramping up the testing facilities of COVID-19 at the earliest given the escalating mortality and morbidity rate across the country.

Sudhi, in his petition, also sought directions to proclaim an order for the urgent resumption of duties of all private hospitals including its doctors and paramedical staff in order to effectively fight against the pandemic.

The plea said that the country’s health infrastructure is understaffed and under-resourced.

The decision taken by the respondent is extremely sad and unfortunate, keeping in view the given circumstances where the entire country is under lockdown and the government hospitals are overwhelmingly packed, the petition said. (ANI)