New Delhi:  The Central government on Thursday told the Delhi High Court that it would soon issue a notification asking all the private hospitals, built on the government land allocated to them at subsidized rates, to provide free treatment to poor.

Submitting before a bench of acting Chief Justice A K Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw, the Centre said the policy will ensure free treatment to poor with 25 percent reservation in the OPD and 10 percent beds for indoor patients.

The notification which has been approved by the Urban Development Ministry has been sent to the Law Ministry for its assessment before issuance of a notification. On clearance by the Law Ministry, the notice will be issued.

It may be noted that 43 renowned hospitals of the national capital were allocated land on subsidized rates on a condition that they would provide free treatment to the poor, failing to meet their commitments they had to face legal action.

In 2002, senior lawyer Ashok Aggarwal filed public interest litigation (PIL). Responding to which, High Court summoned these hospitals to reserve 25 percent beds in the OPD and 10 percent beds in the hospital for the free treatment of the poor.

Many hospitals challenged the High Court’s judgment in the Supreme Court, which too favored the HC decision.

Three hospitals Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Hospital, Moolchand Hospital and St Stephen's Hospital defied the court’s order and declared their detachment from the government’s policy.
Lawyer Ashok Aggarwal filed a contempt of court case against these hospitals.

Responding to which the High Court issued a notice to the Central government seeking a reply in the concerned issue.

But in the last hearing, the Centre decided to issue a common notification to all the hospitals leaving them with no option to deny free treatment to the poor as per the lease agreement.

JPN/Bureau