S.K. Garg v. State of Uttar Pradesh and Others

1999 (1) AWC 847
Download Judgment: English

The Petitioner, S.K. Garg, filed a writ petition in the Allahabad High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India (original writ jurisdiction of High Courts). The petition brought to the Court’s attention the appalling and unhygienic condition of Government hospitals in the city of Allahabad. It was alleged that indigent patients had been refused treatment at the hospital, medicines were in short supply and there was garbage and filth everywhere in the hospitals.

The petition invoked Article 47 of the Constitution, which makes it a duty of the State to improve public health.

The Court found the allegations made by the Petitioner to be true. It declared that Government hospitals in Allahabad were in “very bad shape” and needed “drastic improvement.” The Court directed the State of Uttar Pradesh to set up a committee to investigate the affairs of Government hospitals.

Regarding the State’s duty to improve public health, the Court held that the right to health had been established as part of the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution. It declared the State to be a welfare state where “people have the right to proper medical care.” It further held that a person’s inability to pay could not be a ground to refuse treatment.

“This is a welfare State, and the people have a right to get proper medical treatment. In this connection, it may be mentioned that in U.S.A. and Canada there is a law that no hospital can refuse medical treatment of a person on the ground of his poverty or inability to pay. In our opinion Article 21 of the Constitution, as interpreted in a series of judgments of the Supreme Court, has the same legal effect.” Para. 5.