The Delhi High Court on Friday quashed a Delhi government circular giving preferential treatment to city residents over others at the Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital in east Delhi as a pilot project.
A Bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V.K. Rao said it led to the creation of a “class within class” of identically placed citizens which was “impermissible”.
The Bench also rejected the State government’s defence that the decision was taken due to lack of facilities, saying that the State “cannot avoid or shirk away” from its constitutional obligations on account of financial constraints or lack of infrastructure and manpower.
The court did not approve of the State government’s decision to classify patients as Delhi residents and non-residents based on their voter identity cards, saying such a classification “was based on no reasonable justification”.
Soon after the verdict, State Health Minister Satyendar Jain said the government will challenge the decision in the apex court.
The court decision came on a petition by NGO Social Jurist, filed through advocate Ashok Agarwal, challenging the October 1 circular issued by the State government regarding commencement of the pilot project.
Quashing the circular, the court said it classifies identically situated persons differently for the purpose of granting them medical facility “without any rational basis” and therefore, it cannot be upheld.
The Bench said the circular proposed to achieve the goal of decongestion and avoid situations like assault on doctors, but to do that the government was practising a classification which was prohibited under the law. The Bench noted that as per the circular, non-resident Delhi patients were given a light-blue coloured OPD card and facilities of free medicines, pharmacy and investigations were denied.