Why no action against private hospitals not catering to poor: CIC

New Delhi, Feb 16: The CIC has slapped the maximum penalty which it can impose on two Delhi government officials for not disclosing the action taken on a seven-year-old Delhi High Court order requiring that beds be reserved in private hospitals for the benefit of poor patients.

'Punish pvt hospitals not treating poor'
Ordering an inquiry into the withholding of information on beds reserved for the poor in private hospitals, Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu slapped a fine of Rs 25,000 on the public information officials of the health department -- RN Das and Lily Gangmei.

Delhi High Court had in 2007 ruled that private hospitals to whom land was allotted by DDA and Delhi government at concessional rates are to provide free treatment on 10 per cent of total Indoor beds and on 25 per cent of total OPD patients to patients from the Economically Weaker Section category whose total monthly family income was less than Rs 4,000.

"The Central Information Commission (CIC) finds inordinate delay in the implementation of the court order, which is the cause of denial of information about it. After hearing both the complainant and respondent officers... the Commission suspects a vested interest and corruption behind the delay and denial of information, which need to be probed.

"Under Section 18(2), the Commission is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to inquire into this matter," he said in the order.

In his stern order, Acharyulu further said he sees no ray of hope for the implementation of the order in the near future. He said that the Health Department should serve the health needs of the poor and not the profit-generating private hospitals, which are breaching the conditions regarding serving the poor.

"The public authority should remember that they are supposed to protect the public money to be collected from these hospitals, as per the High Court order and norms, and any delay in recovery is loss of revenue being caused to the people and to that extent it is abdication of that responsibility," Acharyulu said.


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