DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18203/2394-6040.ijcmph20203958

COVID-19 and the judiciary: the case for access to testing Sudhi versus Union of India

Diya Uberoi

Abstract


In an effort to protect citizens’ right-to-health, the Supreme Court of India on April 8th ordered the government to make COVID-19 testing free in all private hospitals and labs. The Court’s decision in Sudhi v. Union of India marked a significant step towards ensuring that all people, especially poor workers in the informal sector have access to necessary care. Five days later, however, after facing objections from private companies and the state, the Supreme Court reversed its previous order and made testing free for only those living below the poverty line, an obligation already mandated under the National Health Policy Scheme.This commentary suggests that judicial action should be strengthened, not hampered, in times of global health crisis. While no state has unlimited resources to ensure the protection of health, the judiciary should be emboldened to hold the state to account.   


Keywords


Right to health, Access to testing, Courts

Full Text:

PDF

References


United Nations Development Programme. Ensuring Access to Justice in the Context of Covid-19, May 2020. Available at: https://www.undp.org/content/ undp/en/home/librarypage/democratic-governance/access_to_justiceandruleoflaw/ensuring-access-to-justice-in-the-context-of-covid-19-.html. Accessed on 9 June 2020.

Rumbold B, Baker R. Universal Health Coverage, Priority Setting, and the Human Right to Health. Lancet. 2017;390:10095:712-4.

Ferraz O. The right to health in the courts of Brazil: worsening health inequities? Health Human Rts. 2009;11:33-45.

Andia TS, Lamprea E. Is the judicialization of health care bad for equity? a scoping review. Int J Equity Health. 2019;18:61.

Parmet WE. Populations, public health, and the law. 2009. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.

Hellewell J, Abbot S, Gimma A. Feasibility of controlling COVID-19 outbreaks by isolation of cases and contacts. Lancet Global Health. 2020;8:488-96.

World Health Organization. Laboratory testing for coronavirus disease 2019 (‎‎COVID-19)‎‎ in suspected human cases: interim guidance, 2020. Available at: https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/331329. Accessed 10 May 2020.

Lopez G. Why America is still failing on Coronavirus testing, 2020. Available at: https://www.vox.com/2020/4/10/21214218/trump-coronavirus-testing-social-distancing. Accessed on 1 May 2020.

Biswas S. Coronavirus: Why is India Testing so Little? 2020. Available at: https://www.bbc.com/ news/world-asia-india-51922204. Accessed on 29 April 2020.

Alluri A, Pathi K. India coronavirus: should people pay for their own Covid-19 tests? 2020. Available at: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-52322559. Accessed on 1 June 2020.

Sudhi SV. Union of India and Ors 8 April 2020. Writ Petition No. 10816/220 (Supreme Court of India).

UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR). General Comment No. 14: The Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Health (Art. 12 of the Covenant), 11 August 2000, E/C.12/2000/4. para. 12, para 43.

International Development Law Organization. Statement by the Director General of IDLO, Jan Beagle: A rule of law-based response to the Covid-19 Pandemic, 2020. Available at: https://www.idlo.int/news/policy-statements/statement-director-general-idlo-jan-beagle-rule-law-based-response-covid-19. Accessed on 29 April 2020.

Sudhi SV. Union of India and Ors. April 14, 2020, Application for Intervention No. 48265/2020 (Supreme Court of India).

Cockayne J. Private Military and Security Companies. In: Andrew Clapham and Paola Gaeta (eds) The Oxford Handbook of International Law in Armed Conflict. 2014. New York: Oxford University Press.

Yildiz E. The roles and responsibilities of non-state actors: the case of education and training internet, 2016. Available at: https://www.norrag.org/the-roles-and-responsibilities-of-non-state-actors-the-case-of-education-and-training/. Accessed on 1 June 2020.

Clapham A. Human Rights Obligations of Non-State Actors. Oxford University Press; 2006.

Sassoli M. Involving Organized Armed Groups in the Development of the Law? in Odello M and Beruto GL eds. Non-State Actors and International Humanitarian Law- Organized Armed Groups: A Challenge for the 21st Century. Milano: Franco Angeli; 2010.

Novartis AGV. Union of India. April 1, 2013. Civil Appeals Nos. 2706-2716 of 2013 (Supreme Court of India).

Ahmed MV. Union of India and Others. Delhi High Court. W.P. (C) 7279/2013. 2014 (Delhi High Court).

Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity V. State of West Bengal. 1996. 4 S.C.C. 37 (Supreme Court of India).

National Sample Survey Organization. National sample survey, 60th round, 2005. New Delhi: Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.