SC Directs Centre to Respond to PIL Capping RT-PCR Test at Rs. 400

The SC issued notice to the Centre to respond to the PIL to fix a uniform ceiling on the detection COVID-19 test.

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday, 24 November, sought a response from the Centre on a Public Interest Litigation to cap the cost of administering the RT-PCR (real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) test for detecting COVID-19 at Rs. 400 across the country.

The apex court bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) S. A. Bobde and comprising of Judges A. S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian issued notice to the Union Health Ministry to respond to the PIL to fix a uniform ceiling on the detection COVID-19 test, reported news agency, IANS.

Plea Sayas ‘Big Loot by Laboratories’

The plea, filed by advocate Ajay Agarwal, representing the petitioner submitted to the Supreme Court that different rates are being charged across the country, despite the actual cost of the rest being Rs. 200. He appealed to the bench to fix a uniform rate across the country for the RT-PCR test.

He sought the SC to direct a maximum price cap of Rs 400, instead of Rs 900 to Rs 2,800, which has been fixed by different state governments, and Union Territories, including Delhi, reported IANS.

"There is a big loot by laboratories and they are minting money to the tune of crores and crores of rupees. The margin of profit is so high, it is as high as 1,400 per cent in Andhra Pradesh and 1,200 per cent in Delhi," said the plea.

The deponent, in his plea, produced ‘evidence’ of a Nagpur-based supplier who is willing to provide RT-PCR test kits for as cheap as Rs 200, and alleged that private establishments are making a profit even at Rs 400, since they have already installed the test machines to conduct a “large number of tests for other infectious diseases such as HIV, Hepatitis, dengue, tuberculosis, malaria, etc,” reported Hindustan Times.


Apex Court Has Fixed a Hearing in Two Weeks

Agarwal asked the apex court to consider the plea as an urgent matter because of the sharp incline in COVID-19 positive cases in the country which has forced citizens to conduct the test at the earliest, reported IANS.

“The matter is concerned with 135 crore citizens of the country as everybody worried about the coronavirus and forced to get their test done at this exorbitant price,” the plea said.

The bench took notice of his submissions, and said the court will examine this issue along with another pending petition pertaining the subsidisation and capping of treatment costs for COVID-19 patients. CJI SA Bobde has listed the matter for hearing in two weeks, and agreed to issue notice to the Centre.

(With inputs from Hindustan Times and IANS)

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