Bombay HC refuses to review pro-poor medical scheme
Mumbai: The Bombay High Court dismissed petition of a medical foundation seeking review of its earlier order approving a 2006 scheme that required public trusts getting government aid or land to provide free hospital beds for the poor and underprivileged.
Rejecting the petition, a bench noted "the scheme is formulated by this court after considering the relevant provisions of the Bombay Public Trust Act and the need for modification of Section 41AA in the larger interest of society. We are of the considered opinion that the scheme formulated by this Court does not call for any interference."
"So far as review is concerned, the legal position is that a review of an earlier order is not permissible unless the court is satisfied that material error manifest on the face of order undermines its soundness or results in miscarriage of justice," observed the bench of Justices Sadhna Jadhav and V K Tahilramani.
"A review of a judgement is an extreme step and cannot be resorted to unless there is a glaring omission or addition which would thwart the established principles of law."
The review plea was filed by the Pune-based Shri Seva Medical Foundation, a charitable trust registered under the Bombay Public Trust Act (BPT Act), which runs a hospital.
The Bench said the court, which responded to a PIL, had considered public interest while formulating the scheme for making grant-in-aid meaningful for weaker sections of the community.
The scheme was formulated on the principle that PIL was an arm of the legal movement intended to bring justice within the reach of the poor masses.
The petitioners are, in fact, seeking relief of exemption from the scheme under the garb of review petition, which cannot be entertained in the larger interest of the society, the Judges ruled.
"Hence, the review petition is dismissed with no order as to costs."
In the petition filed in 2009, the trust had sought relief or modification of the scheme, which came into operation from September 1, 2006. The petitioner argued that the scheme could not be made applicable to them.
The trust had first approached the Assistant Charity Commissioner, which rejected its plea, following which, it moved to the Bombay High court.
According to the petitioner, hospitals which have received land on ownership, lease or leave and licence on a nominal or concessional rate from the state or Centre would come within the purview of state-aided public trust.
It was argued that the petitioner was not covered under the relevant section (41AA) of the BPT Act as it had not received any grant or land from the government.
However, the Charity Commissioner submitted that the financial assistance contemplated under the BPT Act is applicable to the petitioner as it speaks of grant-in-aid or other financial aid from the State or Centre.
This financial assistance includes exemption granted under Section 58(II) of BPT Act and the concession given by the state government by virtue of Sales Tax Act or under the Electricity Act, the Commissioner contended.
The petitioner is running a hospital having annual expenditure of more than Rs 5 lakh. Therefore, under relevant sections of the BPT Act, the scheme is applicable to the trust, the Commissioner submitted.