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SC may restrict free COVID-19 testing in private labs to Ayushman Bharat card holders

The Supreme Court may modify its earlier order asking the government to make COVID-19 testing by private labs free of cost and restrict free testing to only Ayushman Bharat cardholders.

The court had earlier asked to make COVID-19 testing by private labs free of cost as they were charging Rs 4500 per test, while government labs were conducting it for free. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta on behalf of the government opposed any move to make the testing free of cost for those who can afford it.

The Solicitor General suggested that a scheme can be formed for those falling below the poverty line, to provide them with access to COVID-19 testing without paying such a hefty amount.

Key Highlights

• The Solicitor General highlighted that the government should prioritize its resources, as the battle against Coronavirus may go on for months. He stated that those wishing to avail the test for free can go to the 139 government testing labs.

• He further suggested that only those referred by a doctor need to be tested and not everyone should go through it.

  • He also pointed out the steps taken by the government to scale up the testing and isolation facilities.

The Case: Background

The Supreme Court’s earlier order had come on a plea filed by advocate Shashank Deo Sudhi, in which he sought the centre to make COVID-19 testing by private labs free of cost. The private labs had fixed the amount of Rs 4500 for one test, which many activists claimed was unaffordable for the majority of the Indian population.

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