The Delhi High Court on Monday said it will examine whether the AAP government's pilot project at GTB Hospital to give preferential treatment to city residents was violating the rights to equality and life enjoyed by others under the Constitution.
A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice VK Rao said it has noted the Aam Aadmi Party-led government's "difficulties" related to infrastructure, staff and facilities and will consider if these are valid grounds to deny others their rights under Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution.
With the observations, the court reserved its verdict on an NGO's plea challenging the Delhi government's pilot project at GTB Hospital.
During the hearing, the Delhi government's senior standing counsel Rahul Mehra told the court that no individual has so far filed a complaint against its October 1 circular initiating the pilot project at the hospital.
Mr Mehra said no one was being denied treatment, access to tests or outpatient (OPD) facilities and the hospital was only prioritising whom to treat first.
He said the Delhi government-run hospitals have to prioritise in this manner, as it does not have as much funds as the central government has.
He said that it was an innovative idea of the Delhi government and it should not be struck down on the basis of a public interest litigation that does not list even one complaint.
Mr Mehra said the Delhi government took this policy decision as the huge influx of patients was putting a lot of strain on its infrastructure and staff, and it was also leading to manhandling of doctors by patients or their attendants.
The bench, however, appeared unimpressed by the contention and asked, "Who is responsible for this? The courts? Or is it mismanagement? If you cannot manage then stop the facilities."
The court further said it has noted the Delhi government's difficulties and will examine if they constitute a sufficient ground to justify the decision to give preferential treatment to residents of the national capital over others.
The bench said that the government ought to have evaluated the shortcomings and taken steps to rectify them, instead of taking away the rights of others by changing the manner in which they are provided treatment.
"We will consider it in light of Article 14 (right to equality) and Article 21 (right to life and liberty) of the Constitution and pass orders," the court said and reserved its judgement on the PIL by NGO Social Jurist.
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