The Delhi government has touted its Farishte Dilli Ke scheme as a boon for victims of accidents by enabling them to access free trauma care. However, the Delhi High Court has cautioned the state government about potential misuse of the scheme by opportunists.
Last month, Farishte Dilli Ke was credited with saving 3,000 lives. “Cashless treatment shall be provided to any eligible medico-legal victim of [a] road accident, where the incident has occurred in Delhi, in any hospital provided the victim is brought or referred or transferred to the concerned private hospital within 72 hours of the case,” an official explained at the time. They added that “refusal of such medico-legal cases by private hospitals and nursing homes would be a punishable offence and the government will initiate suspension of the certificate against the hospital if such a case is reported.”
The goal of the scheme ostensibly is to guarantee provision of care within the ‘golden hour’. This refers to the timeframe following a traumatic event wherein treatment ought to be initiated to improve outcomes for the patient.
“If people are admitted in time, their lives can be saved,” Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said earlier this year. In addition, the scheme praises those who transport accident victims to hospital. “I want every citizen of Delhi to become a farishta [angel],” Kejriwal said. “You should pledge to help accident victims, burn victims and acid attack victims and take them to hospitals.” Such victims, he noted, would have their expenses paid for by the state government – “regardless of how expensive the treatment or hospital is.”
The High Court in Delhi, however, has warned of ‘touts’ encouraging people to avail free treatment under Farishte Dilli Ke when it may be unwarranted under the scheme. “Let’s say if a person suffers from a small fall in the house, he’s pushed by these touts to visit the hospital,” said a two-justice bench consisting of A. J. Bhambhani and G. S. Sistani, warning that touts “seem to have hijacked the entire process.”
In the provision of treatment under Farishte Dilli Ke, the justices said that “a balance needs to be struck” to avert misuse of the scheme. Otherwise, they cautioned, hospitals will be “overburdened by such patients” and “the needy won’t benefit.”
“Attempts can be made to misuse the best of scheme,” a state law and justice ministry said in response. “The concerns of the honourable court will be conveyed to the highest levels of the government.”