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Kerala HC refuses to stay Government order reducing the RT-PCR test

KC Gopakumar Kochi | Updated on May 07, 2021

Court also asks the Centre on the availability of vaccines ordered by the State

The Kerala High Court on Friday declined to stay the government order reducing the charge of RT-PCR test to ₹500 from ₹1,700 in private laboratories.

Justice N Nagaresh observed that prima facie it appeared that the government had arrived at the rate of RT-PCR test after conducting a market survey through the Kerala Medical Services Corporation Limited.

The court said the government statement filed showed that cost of RT-PCR test, including swab collection would come to ₹135-240 only. Also,in many the other States including Haryana, Telangana, and Uttarakhand the charges were within the same range as that set by the government. Therefore, the court did not find any reason to pass an interim order, the court added.

The court also declined the plea of laboratory owners to restrain the government from taking coercive steps against lab owners not following the government order. The owners argued that that the average cost of an RT-PCR test came to ₹1,500. The revision of the charges would be detrimental to the quality of tests.

The State government submitted that they had reduced the charges to ₹500 per test in the private labs, taking into consideration the rates in other States.

Vaccine scarcity

Meanwhile, a Division Bench led by Justice Devan Ramachandran directed the Centre to inform the court when a meaningful solution to the vaccine scarcity could be found and also when the vaccines ordered by the Kerala government could be made available.

The Bench issued the directives on a public interest litigation seeking a directive to the Centre to bring the Covid vaccines under the ambit of the Drugs (Prices Control) Order and allocate sufficient funds to the State government for procuring the vaccines.

The Bench pointed out there should be some plan of action for catering to the need of the State government. There was a scare that the people could not get vaccinated because of the scarcity. As a result, citizens flock to the vaccination centres leading to crowding.

The court directed the authorities of all the vaccination centres in the State to inform local police well in advance on the vaccination dates so that the police could provide sufficient force to prevent congestion.

Published on May 07, 2021

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