The Madras High Court on Wednesday dismissed a plea based on a media report about 'overcharging' by private hospitals for COVID-19 treatment in Tamil Nadu and seeking to regulate the fees, observing that it cannot conduct a rowing inquiry and go by news reports.
First bench comprising Chief Justice AP Sahi and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy, refused to entertain the plea, saying petitioner Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam (TMMK) failed to bring up any specific incident of violation on the part of private hospitals.
"Come with specific instances and not general allegations. If any such patient who has been allegedly charged exorbitantly by private hospitals comes forward, we will take notice of the same... we will not undertake any academic exercise just for the sake of doing it unless the petitioner comes up with specific instances," the court maintained.
Relying on an 'expose' telecast by English TV channel Times Now last week, the petitioner contended that since the state government failed to regulate the treatment charges, private hospitals in the state were fleecing COVID-19 patients through exorbitant bills.
Even the Tamil Nadu Health Minister has admitted to prevalence of the issue during a press meet. Therefore, the court should take judicial notice of the issue which is available in the public domain, the TMMK argued.
However, refusing to concur with the arguments, the bench noted that the courts cannot go by news reports.
State Health Minister C Vijayabaskar had on Saturday warned private hospitals against fleecing coronavirus patients and announced that a rate card for charging people battling the pandemic will be fixed in a day or two.
Asked about some hospitals allegedly fleecing patients, he had said it had come to the notice of the government too, that charges were on the higher side in some hospitals.
Tamil Nadu has reported over 25,000 cases of the virus since the lockdown began in March, and numbers are only rising every day. For the fourth consecutive day, on Wednesday, the state recorded over 1000 cases.