HC asks Delhi govt. to comply with order to regulate online path labs

Put things in order or else will probably have to issue contempt notice and shut all your establishments: court

The Delhi High Court on Friday said it expects that the AAP government will put things in order and comply with a judicial order asking authorities to take action and regulate online pathological labs, otherwise contempt action would be initiated.

The High Court, which was hearing a plea alleging non-compliance of its order in this regard, also sought to know from the AAP government whether its pathological laboratories and hospitals are NABL accredited.

The plea alleged non-compliance of the courtโ€™s August 6, 2020 order to take action against illegal online health service aggregators operating in Delhi and to regulate online pathological labs.

โ€œThere is something fundamentally wrong in the process. Are your own labs and hospitals NABL [National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories] accredited? It is a very fundamental question,โ€ Justice Najmi Waziri said.

Delhi government additional standing counsel Sanjoy Ghose and Urvi Mohan submitted that the government has issued a notification intimating all the labs that they have to follow the Supreme Courtโ€™s order.

The apex court had on April 8, 2020 directed that COVID-19 tests must be carried out in NABL-accredited labs or any agencies approved by the WHO or ICMR.

The High Court granted time to the Delhi government to take instructions on the issue and listed the matter for further hearing on March 12.

โ€œI expect you to put things in order or else we will probably have to issue contempt notice and shut all your establishments. Find some solutions and put things in order in the interregnum,โ€ Justice Waziri orally observed.

Advocate Shashank Deo Sudhi, representing petitioner Rohit Jain, submitted that online pathological labs are not recognised, still they are conducting COVID-19 tests. They are not accredited labs and not even approved by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), he argued.

The High Court had earlier sought response of the Delhi government on the petition seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against the top government officials and others for alleged non-compliance of an order asking to take action and regulate online pathological labs.

The petitioner has sought contempt action against Delhi Chief Secretary, Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Directors General of Health Service and ICMR for allegedly not complying with the high courtโ€™s last year order.

Sudhi submitted that the online aggregators like ‘healthian’ and ‘1 mg’ are illegally operating in Delhi. He claimed that these online aggregators are playing with the lives of the common people and must be banned.

The plea claimed that the government has completely failed to comply with the order of the court by not taking appropriate legal actions against online health aggregators despite the direction.

It alleged that authorities are equally responsible for restraining the illegal practices of online aggregators which are freely being carried out under the eyes of these officials in utter violations of the rules and regulations laid down by statutes and the guidelines issued by the respondents from time to time ever since the outbreak of deadly COVID-19.

It said that several illegal online aggregators are advertising freely by offering attractive packages for body check-ups including the test for COVID-19 through SMSs or various online modes and added that the petitioner has received advertisements of online aggregators through e-mail for getting tested.

The high court, on August 6, 2020 had directed the AAP government to take action in accordance with law against online health service aggregators, who are operating illegally without any registration, after hearing all the stakeholders.

The direction had come while disposing of a PIL seeking a ban on allegedly illegal online health service aggregators from collecting diagnostic samples for testing of COVID-19 infection.

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