Claiming that the costs of PCR test, COVID-19 treatment had been fixed taking into account the economic situation and capacity of the patients to bear the cost, the health ministry demands an overturn of the apex court’s previous order
KATHMANDU, Nov 2
The government has moved the Supreme Court, seeking a judicial review of the apex court’s October 1 verdict ordering the government to carry out free PCR tests and provide free treatment to COVID-19 patients.
Filing a petition on Sunday via the Office of the Attorney General, the Ministry of Health and Population sought a review of the verdict that would require the government to carry out free PCR tests and provide free treatment to COVID-19 patients.
In its review petition, the government has argued that the verdict contravenes the constitutional provisions and international practices and ignores the economic situation of the country.
Earlier on October 1, a joint bench of the Supreme Court Justices Ananda Mohan Bhattarai and Tanka Bahadur Moktan had ordered the government to carry out free PCR test to those who want to have it as well as provide free treatment to all COVID-19 patients.
However, the government wants the court to overturn the verdict, citing among others the factor that the constitution nowhere requires the government to provide free services.
“In article 35, it is stated that ‘…no one shall be deprived of emergency health services.’ Though there is no mention of ‘free’ here, the government is starting free health services from 15 hospitals across all seven provinces in line with the government’s policy and program for the current fiscal year,” reads the government’s review petition. “These facts state that the government is committed and dedicated to fully implementing the fundamental rights of the citizens related to health,” added the petition, explaining that the recent Cabinet decision paves the way for the poor and other categories of people to get free tests and treatment. The review petition also argued that the court had overlooked the provision of COVID-19 insurance coverage for up to Rs 100,000 in the budget speech as well as the previous orders of the court, the constitution, international practices and the economic situation of the country.
The health ministry also stated that the charge set for the PCR test was not the sole decision of the ministry. The charge of Rs 2,000 for a PCR test was fixed following the assessment of the capacity of the people to bear the cost and the country’s economic situation, in consultation with the Ministry of Finance by considering the charges other countries have set for such tests, according to the petition.