Free coronavirus tests only for poor, Centre to decide rest: SC

The central government and ministry of health can decide whether “any other categories of the weaker sections" should be eligible

Coronavirus vaccine, Covaxin, COVID-19, ICMR, Indian Council of Medical Research
The ICMR has emphasized on the need to follow the best practices in vaccine development. Representational image: iStock

The Supreme Court on Monday (April 14) said free tests for COVID-19 will be made available only for the poor and the decision of who else could be eligible can be taken by the government.

The apex court’s decision comes in the backdrop of it’s last week’s judgement, ordering that free coronavirus tests should be made available for all and a feasibility mechanism needs to be worked upon by the Centre to relieve private lab testing.

However, after the private labs insisted that they would not be able to make the test which now cost ₹4,500 free for all, the top court changed its decision.

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“Free testing for COVID-19 will be available to persons eligible under Ayushmaan Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana as already implemented by the Government of India, and any other category of economically weaker sections of the society as notified by the Government,” the court said.

The central government and ministry of health can decide whether “any other categories of the weaker sections, like workers belonging to low income groups in the informal sectors or beneficiaries of Direct Benefit Transfer and others should be eligible.” it added, giving the Centre a week’s time to inform the court the same.

Earlier in the day, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), in an affidavit, urged the Supreme Court to dismiss the petition on which it had ordered private labs to conduct free COVID-19 testing, stating that they’re already being conducted for the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) beneficiaries.

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