Healthcare has been removed from the list of services in the Draft Consumer Protection Bill.
The Cabinet approved the “technical amendment” in the proposed law on June 24, to ensure the bill passes smoothly in the Upper House. The passage of the bill was opposed alleging that the law would be disadvantageous to doctors, and the fear of ‘legal action’ would also affect the patients.
Reasons For Proposed Changes
This decision was taken to bring relief to the medical fraternity, which has expressed concerns over the law being misused against them.
According to the officials, the change is not expected to restrict any person reaching out to the consumer forum in case of medical negligence or inefficiency in health services.
“The bill states that all goods and services will be covered under the proposed law and hence no provision to protect consumers has been diluted at all. For all practical purposes, this will include healthcare as well,” an official told The Times Of India.
Bill Stalled In Past
During the first Modi Government, the bill was obstructed and eventually lapsed.
According to officials, when the Consumer Protection Act was introduced in 2015, “healthcare” was not mentioned in the list of services.
“Healthcare”- No More On The List
As per the bill of 2015, “service” referred to any description made available to potential users and includes facilities related to banking, insurance, finance, transport, processing, board or lodging or both, electrical supplies, entertainment, housing construction, telecom, news, etc.
It did not include any service free of charge or under a personal service contract. But in 2019, when a new consumer protection bill was introduced in Lok Sabha, “healthcare” was included in the list after telecom services.
According to sources, this step was taken after the Consumer Affairs Ministry found a Supreme Court judgement of 1995. The judgement stated that the medical services to patients would come under the Consumer Protection Act.
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