The Telangana High Court on Wednesday directed the state government to allow private hospitals and diagnostic laboratories to conduct Covid-19 tests.
The court found fault with the government's order that Covid-19 tests should be conducted only at state-run hospitals and termed this as undemocratic.
A division bench of Justice M.S. Ramachandra Rao and Justice K. Lakshman ruled that getting Covid-19 tests and treatment done in private hospitals at their own cost is the right of people who can afford it.
Hearing a public interest litigation seeking direction to the government to allow private hospitals to conduct Covid-19 tests, the court observed that the government can't compel citizens to undergo the tests only at Gandhi Hospital, NIMS hospitals and other hospitals designated by the government.
The court directed that private hospitals and labs should conduct the tests as per the guidelines of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). It said the hospitals and labs should apply to the ICMR for its nod to conduct the tests.
The court wondered how the government without partnership of the private sector would deal with a situation that may arise due to spurt in coronavirus cases.
The bench dismissed the government's argument that if private hospitals are allowed to conduct the tests, they could misuse it and hide the facts. It questioned how private hospitals can function if the government has no trust in them and wondered how they are empanelled for treatment under the government's Arogyasri health scheme.
The high court order came as a blow to the state government which is already under fire from several quarters for not conducting enough tests.
Earlier, the court had pulled up the government for discrepancies in the number of tests conducted in the state and for not testing the samples collected from people who died of Covid-19 symptoms.