The Delhi High Court has dismissed a PIL seeking direction to the Centre to make available generic medicines and medical treatment to the public at a reasonable cost, saying that it “cannot encroach into policy matters of Central government”.
A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw held that the Centre and Delhi government have already set up public hospitals for providing medical treatment at reasonable cost. “The Central Government as well as the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi have already set up public hospitals for providing medical treatment at no cost or at reasonable cost. We are of the view that beyond the same, it is not in the domain of this Court to issue any such direction,” the bench held.
It also said that the Department of Pharmaceuticals under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers has informed it that 164 Jan Aushadhi stores have been opened in different states in the premises of Government hospitals which provide quality generic medicines. “It is not as if the Government has not taken the steps in accordance with its Jan Aushadhi scheme. Again, it is a policy decision as to the need for how many stores and at what places has been assessed by the Government.
“This court cannot encroach into the policy matters and cannot start interfering with the decisions taken by the Government in this regard…,” the bench said. The High Court’s direction came on the plea of NGO Fight For Human Rights’s which had submitted that there was no regulatory authority to ensure that medical device firms do not overcharge patients and non-availability of medicines at affordable rates is a violation of fundamental rights.
It had contended that that majority of Indian population is living below the poverty line and they are not in a position to purchase branded medicines at high cost.
The PIL had alleged that no serious steps have been taken to implement the measures envisaged by the government like price control of essential medicines, making available generic medicines and giving wide publicity regarding its benefits and availability to the poor people. It had also said there are very few Jan Aushadhi stores operational in different parts of India and were inadequate to meet the demands of vast majority of poor population