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Healthcare services covered under the Consumer Protection law: SC

New Delhi, Apr 29, 2022: The Supreme Court Friday said that doctors and healthcare services are not excluded from the ambit of the Consumer Protection Act of 2019 and termed the PIL concerning it as a “motivated PIL”.

A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli affirmed the Bombay High Court verdict which held that doctors and healthcare service providers are covered under the ambit of the Consumer Protection Act.

Appearing for the petitioner an NGO “Medicos Legal Action Group”, senior advocate Siddharth Luthra said that in the 1986 legislation there was no mention of healthcare in the definition of services and despite there being a proposal to include it under the new Act, it was actually not included.

The bench said that the statute says “services of any description” and added the definition of service is wide enough and had the Parliament wanted to exclude it, then it would have said expressly.

Justice Chandrachud said, “Actually your client committed a self-goal. Some consumer negligence case against the doctor and they have prompted it to file a PIL. This is a motivated PIL”.

The bench added that the reason why healthcare was deleted was that the definition itself of “services” is wide enough and the Minister’s speech in the house cannot restrict what is expressly stated in the statute.

Justice Chandrachud referred to a recent verdict passed by him and said that similar was the case of Telecom services which was not there in 1986 legislation but the court said that it implied that it was covered under the “services of any description”.

The bench said, “The speech of the minister which you are referring to is very guarded. We will affirm the judgement of the High Court and you shall pay the fine within four weeks”.

The Bombay High Court verdict of last year while dismissing the PIL had said that there was not much difference between the definition of “services” under the 1986 and 2019 legislations as healthcare services were not expressly mentioned in the 1986 Act also.

The High Court had imposed a cost of Rs 50 thousand on the NGO.

Source: Economic Times