BENGALURU: Observing that prima facie, the circular issued by the Commissioner of Health and Family Welfare Services will defeat the purpose of the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (KPME) Act, the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday issued notices to chief secretary, additional chief secretary, health and family welfare services commissioner, BBMP commissioner and urban development department principal secretary.
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice John Michael Cunha was hearing a PIL filed by Bharat Yuvajana Sene from Tilak Nagar in Bengaluru. The petitioner questioned the circular issued by the commissioner of health and family welfare services, granting several exemptions to private medical establishments against the law, in the guise of simplifying the process of registration/renewal, under the KPME Act. “It is necessary to note that none of the hospitals provide public service or free service to patients. Patients will be charged, but without the trade licence, their profit will increase,” the petitioner alleged.
In a circular dated August 17, 2020, the commissioner had stated that trade licence is not necessary as medical service is an essential service, and they are not trade bodies. The petitioner stated that if is the case, BBMP was collecting Rs 43 crore from 900 medical establishments within its limits, while there are more than 5,000 hospitals in Bengaluru Urban.
With the minimum fee for trade licence being Rs 16,800, the approximate revenue BBMP gets is Rs 8.40 crore. When there is no trade licence, there is no GST, which is also a revenue loss, the petitioner said. Cafeterias, physiotherapy centres and medical stores inside the establishments too do not require trade licence, which is against natural justice, the petitioner alleged.