In April, Shashank Deo Sudhi filed a public interest petition before the Supreme Court seeking free COVID-19 testing for all. The Court admitted his petition and decided to intervene. On 8 April, a Division Bench consisting of Justices Ashok Bhushan and S Ravindra Bhat ordered the Union to provide free diagnostic tests: this would equally apply to both Government and private laboratories.
Citing financial stress and practical concerns, various parties intervened on behalf of private labs and sought a modification of the Court’s order. On 13 April, the Court revisited its earlier order and clarified its scope: only people covered under the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana would be eligible for free COVID tests from private laboratories.
Image Credits: Dr Harsh Vardhan
The Court’s response has triggered a debate, on the one hand, on the Court’s power to adjudicate policy concerns and, on the other, its prerogative to ensure socio-welfare benefits for the marginalized.
Here are 3 must-reads that offer different perspectives on the Court’s response.