COVID-19: Cannot make undertaking to donate plasma mandatory for treatment, says Delhi HC

Petition sought to make it mandatory for all hospitals to obtain plasma from the recovered patients, both who were admitted in hospitals as well as who were under home quarantine/isolation, by framing proper guidelines

Updated - July 03, 2020 01:58 pm IST

Published - July 03, 2020 01:43 pm IST - New Delhi:

NEW DELHI, 12/07/2016: A view of Delhi High Court, in New Delhi on Tuesday. 
Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma

NEW DELHI, 12/07/2016: A view of Delhi High Court, in New Delhi on Tuesday. Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma

COVID-19 treatment could not be made conditional on a person giving an undertaking that he or she would mandatorily donate plasma after recovering, the Delhi High Court said on Friday.

A Bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan made the observation while hearing a petition to make it mandatory for all the hospitals to obtain plasma from the recovered patients , both who were admitted in hospitals as well as who were under home quarantine/isolation, by framing proper guidelines.

The High Court, while declining to entertain the petition, asked the government to treat it as representation and decide on the suggestions made in the petition filed by Piyush Gupta, an advocate and a social worker, in accordance with law.

Watch | COVID-19: Dos and don'ts from the Health Ministry

At the outset, senior advocate Rakesh Tiku, appearing for the petitioner, argued that “we have about 60% COVID-19 patients who have recovered. After 14 days of having recovered, these individuals can be potential plasma donors,“ Mr. Tiku said.

‘Voluntariness will be uncertain’

The senior advocate contended that blood banks ordinarily proceeded on the voluntary concept. “But, we must accept today the ground realities. There is social stigma attached to COVID-19. Hence, the level of voluntariness that we are looking for will be uncertain,” Mr. Tiku argued.

“By the time the bank gets it [plasma], it might be too late,” he stressed.

Reacting to the submission, the Bench asked, “Can it be mandated that the person must donate it? I am surprised with the suggestion that we can force people, however good the cause”.

Interactive map of confirmed coronavirus cases in India

“If the person does not give the undertaking, should he be denied treatment? Treatment cannot be made conditional on a person. What kind of world are you imagining?,” the Bench remarked.

“We should encourage volunteerism. Those messages are coming everyday,” the High Court said.

The petition had sought necessary directions to the Centre and the Delhi government to constitute a “overseeing body which shall regulate the availability of plasma”. It also asked for making it obligatory on the part of every recovered patient to donate plasma at first instance.

The plea contended that the three lakh recovered patients in the country could be potential donors. While the Delhi government inaugurated its first Plasma Bank on Thursday, Mr. Tiku argued that, “This plasma bank cannot await volunteerism”.

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