Telangana Police shall not prevent or impede any ambulance carrying a COVID-l9 patient into the State of Telangana, trying to seek out treatment, the Court ordered. the court has stayed the State government's May 11 decision to impose restrictions on the entry of patients from across State borders into Telangana amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Two orders to the present effect were issued by the Bench of judge Hima Kohli and Justice B Vijaysen Reddy last week.
The Court observed that such restrictions would amount to a violation of fundamental rights enshrined under Articles 15 (prohibition of discrimination), 19(1)(d) (freedom of movement), and 21 (right to life and personal liberty) of the Indian Constitution.
A May 11 order noted that the State had earlier told the court that it didn't propose to seal State borders or take up any quiet testing at these places.
While so, the Bench remarked that the State has now turned turtle and is "blatantly violating the elemental right of the citizens enshrined in Articles 15, l9(l)(d) and 21 of the Constitution of India that secures a citizen from any kind of discrimination by the State, permits free movement throughout the territory of India and safeguards the proper to medical treatment which is yet one more facet of the proper to live."
"It is neither understood nor appreciated how the State could impose such arbitrary conditions which too in respect of critically ill patients who are being transported in ambulances looking for medical treatment in the State, particularly Hyderabad, due to shortage of beds, lifesaving equipment, drugs, etc., in their own State," the Court said. The Court added that if such restrictions were contemplated, the State needs to have issued an advisory or a circular well beforehand in order that the general public at large was informed and will act accordingly "instead of springing a nasty surprise on them."
"lt is therefore directed that Telangana Police shall not prevent or impede any ambulance carrying a COVID-l9 patient into the State of Telangana, trying to find treatment," the Court proceeded to order.
Days later, the difficulty was haunted again on May 14, Friday, when the Court was apprised of media reports highlighting that the State authorities were posing for authorization before allowing the entry of COVID-19 patients from other States into Telangana.
Notably, the May 11 guidelines mandated that an application seeking admission within the hospitals of Telangana must be made to an impact room found out for the aim by any person outside the State seeking hospitalization in Telangana. It is only once the control room issues authorization for such travel, those persons outside the State would be allowed access to Telangana hospitals, it was submitted.
"We are of the view that the impugned Guideline imposes an unreasonable restriction on residents of other states trying to find admission in hospitals within the State of Telangana for COVID-19 treatment," it observed. The Court added that the Constitution of India contemplates a state, both at the federal and therefore the State level. No State act which ends up delaying access to medical assistance when a patient is in a dire need of such a treatment is often validated, the Court said. The Court also mentioned the Supreme Court's April 30 direction that no hospital should be allowed to deny entry to a person only supported her/ his residential status.
In view of those aspects, the supreme court on Friday stayed the Telangana government's May 11 guidelines, while issuing notice within the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition that had challenged the same. The government was also cautioned to not issue the other guidelines or orders which can circumvent the supreme court order or put fetters on the inter-State travel of ambulances carrying COVID-19 patients from neighboring States. All an equivalent, the Court clarified that individuals may voluntarily apply to the Telangana government's control rooms if they want to try to do so.
"But no authorization from the room would be required for any patient and/or attendant to travel into the State of Telangana trying to find hospitalization for treatment of COVID-19 infection," the Court emphasized.