Recently a particular email, which apparently had the consequence of augmenting the patriotic feelings of many Indians, has been flooding many inboxes. The content of this particular email is as follows.
"Right to Emergency Care:
Date Of Judgment: 23/02/2007.
Case No.: Appeal (civil) 919 of 2007.
The Supreme Court has ruled that all injured persons especially in thecase of road traffic accidents, assaults, etc., when brought to ahospital / medical centre, have to be offered first aid, stabilized andshifted to a higher centre / government centre if required. It is onlyafter this that the hospital can demand payment or complete policeformalities. In case you are a bystander and wish to help someone in anaccident, please go ahead and do so. Your responsibility ends as soonas you leave the person at the hospital.
The hospital bears the responsibility of informing the police, firstaid, etc.
Please do inform your family and friends about these basic rights sothat we all know what to expect and what to do in the hour of need.Please not only go ahead and forward, use it too!!!!"
While those whose degree of patriotism is determined by the frequency of such emails coming to their inbox daily (which in turn i reckon is due to their insecurity feelings) wanted to readily believe this mail, some others tried to look at this particular email objectively and sought to look at the bona fides of the email. Accordingly it’s been concluded that this email also is a hoax.
They have reached this conclusion by searching for the original judgement using the case no: given above (full judgements of all SC cases are available from SC website). Consequently they have found out that case no: Appeal (civil) 919 of 2007 deals with a completely different subject. (It is about a no-profit charitable hospital based in Ghanapur, Andhra Pradesh having claimed exemptions on imported medical equipments, based on Para 2 of Notification No. 64/88-Cus, which were granted. But since according to the classification of hospitals by the notification, it fell under Para 3, it also applied for exemption under the same, after the first exemption was granted. On rejection of the second application, they filed the case in the AP High Court, which again didn’t go in their favour and hence this case was filed in Supreme Court.)
I will add my own reason for concurring with their finding out that the mail is hoax. Such cases which go to the SC wanting to enforce the fundamental rights will be writ petitions and not Appeal(civil) cases as is the case in the given mail. So without further research, one could have safely concluded that the given mail is a hoax.
But for all those ‘patriotic’-minded people out there who felt deceived by the present mail, don’t worry….continue keeping ‘jai hind’ as your signature in your emails and blog postings..for, our own SC judgement has arrived at more or less the same conclusions 18 years ago..yes, it is true.. you can verify it on your own.. and I’ll try to explain it in layman jargon as far as possible.
Two important judgements relating to this are Paramanand Katara v. Union of India (Writ Petition (Criminal) No. 270 of 1988) and later in Paschim Mazdoor Samiti v. State of WB (Writ Petn. (Civil) No. 796 of 1992).
In Paramanand Katara, the SC has held that "Article 21 (which provides that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law) of the Constitution casts the obligation on the State to preserve life. The provision as explained by this Court in scores of decisions has emphasised and reiterated with gradually increasing emphasis that position. A doctor at the Government hospital positioned to meet this State obligation is, therefore, duty-bound to extend medical assistance for preserving life. Every doctor whether at a Government hospital or otherwise has the professional obligation to extend his services with due expertise for protecting life. No law or State action can intervene to avoid/delay the discharge of the paramount obligation cast upon members of the medical profession. The obligation being total, absolute and paramount, laws of procedure whether in statutes or otherwise which would interfere with the discharge of this obligation cannot be sustained and must, therefore, give way. On this basis, we have not issued, notices to the States and Union Territories for affording them an opportunity of being heard before we accepted the statement made in the affidavit of the Union of India that there is no impediment in the law. The matter is extremely urgent and in our view, brooks no delay to remind every doctor of his total obligation and assure him of the position that he does not contravene the law of the land by proceeding to treat the injured victim on his appearance before Him • either by himself or being carried by others. We must make it clear that regulations cannot operate as fetters in the process of discharge of the obligation and irrespective of the fact whether under instructions or rules, the victim has to be sent elsewhere or how the police shall be contacted…."
Again in Paschim Mazdoor Samiti v. State of WB (Writ Petn. (Civil) No. 796 of 1992), the SC has held that
"The Constitution envisages the establishment of a welfare state at the federal level as well as at the state level. In a welfare state the primary duty of the Government is to secure the welfare to the people. Providing adequate medical facilities for the people is an essential part of the obligations undertaken by the Government in a welfare state. The Government discharges this obligation by running hospitals and health centres which provide medical care to the person seeking to avail those facilities. Article 21 imposes an obligation on the State to safeguard the right to life of every person. Preservation of human life is thus of paramount importance. The Government hospitals run by the State and the medical officers employed therein are duty bound to extend medical assistance for preserving human life. Failure on the part of the Government hospital to provide timely medical treatment to a person in need of such treatment results in violation of his right to life guaranteed under Article 21. In the present case there was breach of the said right of Hakim Seikh guaranteed under Article 21 when he was denied treatment at the various Government hospitals which were approached even though his condition was very serious at that time and he was in need of immediate medical attention. Since the said denial of the right of Hakim Seikh guaranteed under Article 21 was by officers of the State in hospitals run by the State the State cannot avoid its responsibility for such denial of the constitutional right of Hakim Seikh."
Hence it can be concluded that though the mail itself was a hoax, its contents were true indeed to an extent. Thus you have a right for emergency care in government hospitals by virtue of your fundamental right to life and against private hospitals because of professional obligation of all doctors.