The Delhi High Court has ruled against a petition seeking to order the implementation of the Government’s flagship Ayushman Bharat healthcare scheme in the national capital. The state has refused to roll out the much-touted blockbuster scheme launched by the Modi government last year.
Economist Abhijit Misra filed the legal suit . He claimed that the Delhi government under the governing Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had failed to produce alternative health and welfare schemes which would benefit the most vulnerable Delhiites in the same manner as Ayushman Bharat would provide for them.
Misra deemed the lack of such actions “critical failures”. He queried why the Delhi government had yet to issue a reason why it has not signed the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Government for Ayushman Bharat’s implementation in the National Capital Region (NCR).
The petition, heard before Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice Anup Jairam Bambhani, was dismissed. The justices argued that the suit deals with a political issue. As such, it raised issues beyond the purview of the High Court.
This is not the first time in recent weeks the Delhi government has come under fire for its activities – or lack thereof – on health. Amidst Lok Sabha campaigning, former Union Minister for Health Dr Harsh Vardhan – who is contesting to be re-elected to the Chandi Chowk seat he has held since 2014 – said Mohalla clinics are not adequate replacements for Ayushman Bharat.
Mohalla clinics allow Delhiites to access a basic package of diagnostics, medicines, and consultations free of charge. However, Dr Vardhan said the scheme does not go far enough in providing quality healthcare. He attacked government-run hospitals in the NCR, which he said failed to provide high-quality services.
It is interesting to see health policy taking centre-stage in Delhi electoral narrative ahead of the elections on May 12th. Clearly, this indicates that politicians consider health as a crucial issue that may or may not help them win elections.