ICMR should look into complaints relating to private pathology laboratories: Delhi HC

·3-min read
Representative image
Representative image

New Delhi [India], September 7 (ANI): The Delhi High Court on Tuesday said that ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) cannot be sitting in an ivory tower and said that it should look into the complaints relating to private pathology laboratories.

A bench of Justice Najmi Waziri said ICMR should look into the complaints received against private pathology laboratories and opined that ICMR can revoke licences if there is any breach of conditions.

The court noted that ICMR give licences to private labs. "The whole year has gone by. The whole nation is suffering. The whole NCR is suffering," the court said and listed the matter for further hearing for next week.

In an affidavit filed, ICMR informed the Court that the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) certification is a must for enrollment of private labs for COVID-19 testing, ICMR has told the Delhi High Court adding that monitoring of the activities of online health service aggregators does not come under its purview

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), in its affidavit, told the Delhi High Court that monitoring the activities of online health service aggregators does not come under the purview of ICMR.

ICMR has filed its affidavit in a petition seeking initiation of contempt proceedings for the Delhi government for allegedly not complying with the court's order to take action against illegal online health service aggregators operating in the national capital and to regulate online pathological labs.

"NABL certification is a must for enrollment of private labs for testing. NABL certifies the readiness of labs to undertake molecular testing of SARS-Cov2 before ICMR onboards them for testing. Through these parameters, it is ensured that labs meet the statutory standards for COVID-19 testing," ICMR said in its affidavit.

ICMR also apprised the court that it has laid down SOPs and standard guidance for setting up COVID-19 testing labs and fourteen (14) mentor Institutes have been set up in India to guide the labs on implementing these SOPs and set up four testing labs. For Delhi, the mentor Institute is AIIMS, Delhi, ICMR said.

ICMR submitted that as of August 16 2021, the ICMR has approved 134 (Govt. 35 and Private 99) labs at Delhi for RT-PCR, TrueNat, CBNAAT and Other M-NAT Testing Platforms.

Advocate Shashank Deo Sudhi, who appeared for petitioner Dr Rohit Jain, had alleged that no action has been taken by the government and in fact, there is a grave violation of the Supreme Court order. He had also added that contempt is remedial jurisprudence and not adversarial and public welfare is the highest law.

Petitioner has alleged that the top official of respondents is 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 coronavirus.

"Several illegal online aggregators are advertising freely by offering attractive packages for the body check-up, including COVID-19 test through SMSs or various online modes. The applicant/petitioner has received an advertisement of the online aggregator through e-mail for getting tested," the plea stated.

It had also submitted that it is an extremely serious issue that the online aggregators are operating without any authorisation and approval. Besides, these online aggregators are not accredited by any accreditation agency. The existence of such illegal online diagnostic aggregators is posing a serious health challenge as a large number of people are falling prey to the attractive health packages being offered by these illegal online aggregators, states the plea.

"The acts of respondents clearly constitute the contempt of the court and appropriate contempt proceedings should be initiated against them for acting against the order dated August 6, last year of this court. The respondent's officials have been playing with precious lives of innocent people by promoting unqualified, unregistered medical practitioners to sign the pathological report and exposing the common people to the mercy of untrained and highly incompetent medical/pathological professional," the plea said. (ANI)

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