The Bombay High Court at Nagpur has observed that financial autonomy is required to be given to Government hospitals for the availability of essential medicines and equipment.

While noting that other Departments of the Government enjoy financial autonomy and are permitted to utilize fully their financial powers by purchasing the essentials they require for official needs, the Benchof Justice Sunil. Shukre and Justice M.W. Chandwani, observed –

"…same kind of financial autonomy is not reserved for the Government Hospitals and the GovernmentHospitals are compelled to make purchases of their medicines and medical equipment through Haffkine Institute. Such centralised purchase policy mayhave been formulated with a laudable objective of making available quality medicines and medical equipments well in time to the Government Hospitals, but today the situation has changed."

AdvocateA.J. Gilda appeared Amicus Curiae while Special Counsel F.T. Mirza along with AdditionalGovernment Pleader D.P. Thakare appeared for Respondents before the Court

The Court also noted that there are grievances of the patients who happen to take treatment at the Government Medical College and Hospital, Nagpur, and some Doctors, who are treating them, about the non-availability of several essential medicines and medical equipments.

While aiming at patients who need emergency treatment, the Court added that health service is a sector where the Doctors are required to treat patients many a times on an emergency basis and many of cases are of such nature, they brook no delay and, in such contingencies, if the treating Doctors are required to face a shortage of medicines or medical equipment or both.

The Court referred to the Government Resolution dated May 7, 2021, and noted that the level of financial autonomy has been increased however, the increase is only marginal and thus held –

"The financial independence which was upto the extent of Rs.3 lakhs of purchase, now has been raised to the level of Rs.10 lakhs. Considering today's market conditions relating to medical field, such marginal increase of financial independence is not going to serve in any manner the health sector."

The Bench held State that something more is required to be done and urged the Authorities in power to have a relook at the whole issue so that the interest of the patients can be served in a better way and further remarked –

"Afterallhaving a healthy society is one of the essential dimensions of the concept of"Welfare State" under Article 39-A of the Constitution of India relating to Directive Principles of the State Policy."

The Court after urging the State directed the Deans of both the Government MedicalColleges at Nagpur to furnish data to the Court for the period of the last 5 years about the dates of the requisitions sent by them calling for the supply of medicines/medical equipments every month and the dates on which those monthly requisitions were fulfilled by the respondent no.12 Haffkine Institute.

The Court thus listed the matter for further hearing on January 4, 2023.

CauseTitle - C.H. Sharma and others v. State of Maharashtra and Others

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