In a supplementary affidavit filed by the health department, the Delhi government has informed the Delhi High Court that they are “actively taking steps” to enact the Delhi Health Bill, 2022. The affidavit has been filed in a plea seeking implementation of the Clinical Establishment (Registration and Regulation) Act 2010 and the closure of unauthorised pathological laboratories in Delhi. The plea seeks a direction to the Delhi government to formulate a policy for regulating opening and running of pathological laboratories in the NCT of Delhi. The PIL filed by Bejon Kumar Misra, a consumer policy expert, through his counsel Shashank Deo Sudhi, claims that the Clinical Establishment (Registration and Regulation) Act 2010 could have “thwarted the practice of illegal diagnostic centres as registration of diagnostic lab is must with all compliances in place… the government of NCT of Delhi has not implemented the said Act for the purpose of keeping check on mushrooming of illegal pathological/diagnostic centres”. In the alternative for the implementation of the 2010 Act, the plea seeks issuance of “broad guidelines”.
In its affidavit dated October 12, the Delhi government stated that the Delhi Health Establishments (Registration & Regulation) Bill, 2022, or the Delhi Health Bill, 2022, has already passed various stages of finalisation. “The bill provides for regulation of clinical establishments rendering services in recognised systems of medicines in Delhi including laboratories, prescribing minimum standards of facilities and services to be provided by them in order to safeguard the interests of patients and health care providers,” the affidavit states.
The affidavit states that a committee was constituted in January 2018 which finalised the Delhi Health Bill in 2019 and it was approved by the state health minister. In September 2019, the bill was uploaded on the Delhi government website inviting comments from the public.
Thereafter, the bill was modified after receiving suggestions and comments. After various meetings were conducted to incorporate suggestions made to the bill, on April 27, the health minister approved the revised bill.
The bill was subsequently sent to the standing counsel of the Delhi government for his scrutiny; it was approved by the standing counsel on July 28 after suggested changes were incorporated. The bill was subsequently sent to the Department of Law, GNCTD, for vetting. The file was sent back to the health department with certain observations on September 21. Thereafter, the file was further sent to the department of law on September 29 with a detailed para wise reply which has raised further issues that are presently under examination.
The affidavit states the bill will be finalised after incorporating suggestions by the Department of Law. It will then be placed in public domain for suggestions which will be incorporated after examination. It will be placed before the council of ministers and once it is approved, will be sent to the L-G for his approval pursuant to which it will be placed before the legislative assembly for its enactment.
The affidavit further states that the provisions of the 2010 Act shall not apply to the states in which the enactments specified under the Schedule of the Act are applicable. According to the government, Delhi has its own act – the Delhi Nursing Home Registrations Act, 1953 – and hence the 2010 Act will not be applicable in the state. The affidavit refers to a letter dated December 18, 2020, issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, for the same.
On May 30, the HC had directed the Delhi government to expedite the process of finalisation of the Delhi Health Bill. It had further directed the government to consider the feasibility of implementing the 2010 Act in the intervening period of finalisation of the bill if “the said process is likely to take a long time”. “Let a supplementary affidavit be filed by the GNCTD, at least two weeks prior to the next date of hearing,” the court had directed. The matter is next listed on January 11.