11 December 2010
New Delhi, India
The government had said it was willing to extend secondline treatment costing Rs 28,500 each to all patients except those irrationally treated by private hospitals. But a bench comprising Chief Justice S H Kapadia and Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar wondered how the government could cite financial burden as a ground to deny treatment to a section that might have been irrationally treated by private hospitals.
"It is a question of right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution and the government cannot say finances are a constraint," the bench said.
Solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam realized the weight of the bench’s logic and abandoned the financial constraint argument to clarify that the Centre was more concerned about the capacity to treat rather than finances.
There were only 10 viral–load testing centres, he said. However, the capacity constraint argument too sounded far fetched as the SG himself pointed out that till now, the government had received data identifying only 122 HIV patients who might have been treated irrationally by private hospitals and possibly face the risk of not getting the second–line treatment, exclusively offered by centres run by government.