The Supreme Court said on Friday that doctors and healthcare services were not excluded from the scope of the Consumer Protection Act 2019 and called the PIL relating to it a reasoned PIL.
A bench of Judges DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli upheld the verdict of the Bombay High Court that doctors and health service providers are covered by the Consumer Protection Act.
Appearing for the Petitioner, an NGO Medicos Legal Action Group, Lead Advocate Siddharth Luthra said that in the 1986 legislation there was no mention of healthcare in the definition of services and although there is a proposal to include it in the new law, it was actually not included.
The bench said the law speaks of services of any description and added that the definition of service is broad enough and that if Parliament had wanted to exclude it, it would have expressly said so.
Judge Chandracud said: In fact, your client committed a personal objective. Some cases of consumer negligence against the doctor and they prompted him to file a PIL. It is a motivated PIL.
The bench added that the reason health care was removed was because the definition of services itself is broad enough and the minister’s speech in the House cannot narrow what is expressly stated in the law.
Judge Chandrachud referred to a recent verdict rendered by him and said that the case of telecommunications services was similar which was not the case in the 1986 legislation, but the court said that this implied that ‘he was covered by the services of any description.
The bench said: The minister’s speech to which you refer is very reserved. We will uphold the High Court judgment and you will pay the fine within four weeks.
The Bombay High Court verdict last year, while rejecting the PIL, said there was not much difference between the definition of services under the 1986 and 2019 legislations, as the health services were not expressly mentioned in the 1986 law either.
The High Court had imposed a cost of Rs 50 thousand on the NGO.
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