The Bombay high court (HC) has ordered the Charity Commissioner, Maharashtra, to submit a report by June 19 on whether KJ Somaiya Hospital and Research Centre, a charitable institution, provides free treatment for 10% of its beds reserved for underprivileged patients after seven slum-dwellers from Bharat Nagar in Mumbai’s Bandra (West) filed a petition that the medical facility had charged them an exorbitant amount to treat for the raging coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
A two-member bench of the HC, comprising Justices RD Dhanuka and Madhav Jamdar, has ordered an inquiry to be conducted under the supervision of the Charity Commissioner, Maharashtra, to ascertain whether the charitable hospital provides free treatment for 10% of its beds reserved for underprivileged patients, or the poor slum-dwellers’ charges hold good.
The plea, filed through advocate Vivek Shukla, said the seven slum-dwellers were admitted to the charitable hospital between April 11 and 28 for the treatment of Covid-19.
The hospital authorities allegedly charged Rs 12.50 lakh for the treatment of the Bharat Nagar slum residents.
The petitioners alleged that they were charged for services such as anesthesia, even though none of those were required for their treatment.
They also alleged that though the hospital is run by a charitable trust and is availing of several facilities provided by the Maharashtra government, it is not providing mandatory free treatment to poor patients.
The court took exception to the allegations made in the plea and directed the hospital authorities to file an affidavit by June 19, citing whether similar charges were recovered from other Covid-19 patients
The court will hear the case next on June 23.