For patients! Health care services covered by consumer protection law, says Supreme Court

The Supreme Court said on Friday that doctors and health services were not excluded from the scope of the Consumer Protection Act 2019. The SC refused to interfere with a Bombay High Court verdict and called the PIL against her a “reasoned PIL”.

A panel of judges DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli upheld the judgment of Bombay HC rendered in October 2021 and rejected the request for special authorization filed by an NGO named “Medicos Legal Action Group”.

What is the case?

Appearing for the NGO, lead solicitor Siddharth Luthra argued that in the 1986 legislation there was no mention of healthcare in the definition of ‘services’. Although it was proposed to be included in the new law, it was ultimately dropped.

Judge Chandracud underlined the term “service of any description” and said that the definition of service is wide enough, and if parliament had wanted to exclude it, it would have said so “expressly”.

The judge added: “In fact, your client committed a personal objective. A consumer negligence case against the doctor and they prompted him to file a PIL. This is a reasoned PIL,” NDTV quoted.

What does it mean?

The Supreme Court noted that healthcare services provided to patients by professionals, especially doctors, fall under the Consumer Protection Act, which means that the recipient can sue the doctor as a consumer.

The court noted that if the health service should be excluded by law, then it is essential to mention it in the law passed by parliament. Only the repeal of the old law and its replacement by a new one, the services provided by doctors cannot be removed from the scope of the law.

The decision will not hold physicians liable for any type of medical negligence in a patient’s case and will keep health service providers in regulation.

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