COVID Coverage: Screening and Treatment: April 8th 2020

The Court issued directions to ensure that diagnostic tests for COVID-19 are free of cost

Court directs free testing in private laboratories

A Division Bench comprising Ashok Bhushan and S Ravindra Bhat JJ directed the Union to ensure that diagnostic tests for COVID-19 are free. Significantly, the direction applies to both approved Government and privately owned labs.


The order came in a public interest petition, which highlighted that many people are unable to afford the price of Rs.4500 fixed by the Indian Council of Medical Research for the screening and confirmation test of COVID-19. Acknowledging the difficulty pointed out by the petitioner, the Court noted that the tests were already free in the Government labs. As for the private labs, it ordered the Government to pass appropriate directions to them in this regard to make the tests available for free.


As to the compensation for private labs for conducting such tests for free, the Bench observed that “The question as to whether the private Laboratories carrying free of cost COVID-19 tests are entitled for any reimbursement of expenses incurred shall be considered later on.” Additionally, the Bench also directed that the tests be carried out only in labs approved by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) or any other agencies approved by ICMR or WHO.