The directives were passed on a few writ petitions by Accredited Molecular Testing Laboratories and another private lab challenging the order slashing the price of RT PCR tests
The Kerala High Court on Monday set aside the State government’s order reducing the price of RT PCR tests from ₹1700 to ₹500 in all the private diagnostic labs in the State.
Justice T.R. Ravi also directed the State government to take up within three weeks, a fresh call on the price of RT PCR tests being conducted in private laboratories after holding a discussion with the owners or representatives of the lab.
The directives were passed on a few writ petitions by Accredited Molecular Testing Laboratories and another private lab challenging the order slashing the price of RT PCR tests.
The petitioners contended that the order slashing the price of RT PCR tests was issued without jurisdiction and in violation of principles of natural justice. The State government had no power to issue an order fixing the price for the test.
According to the petitioners, the average cost of conducting an RT-PCR test as per the present norms and quality standards would come to around ₹1500 per test. In fact, revision in the prices of the test had detrimentally affected their interest as well as the quality of the RT-PCR test.
They pointed out that the clientele of the private labs was either persons who wanted to travel abroad or persons who intended to undergo surgeries and operations in private hospitals. The cheaper testing kits were available in the market but they might not produce accurate results. The accuracy of the tests would be diluted by fixing a cheaper rate for the tests. They argued that the order had unilaterally fixed the price, without giving hearing them. Besides, criminal cases were being initiated against those who had refused to comply with the government order.
The State government took the stand that the cost of kits and other consumables used for tests had drastically come down. The contention of the private labs that the only way to move forward was to use cheaper test kits in getting an accurate result was untenable. While the rates in Punjab are only ₹415, ₹500 is charged in Maharashtra, Haryana and Uttarkhand for the test, the government submitted.
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