The Delhi government has asked five private hospitals in the city – Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, Max Super Specialty Hospital (Saket), Shanti Mukand Hospital, Dharamshila Cancer Hospital and Pushpawati Singhania Research Institute – to deposit ‘unwarranted profits’ of over Rs 600 crore for refusing free treatment to the poor, the prime condition for land allotment lease.

Dr Hem Prakash, additional director (EWS) in the Health Department, said these five hospitals were provided lands at concessional rates between 1960 and 1990 on the condition that they would treat the poor free of cost. He also said, ‘These five hospitals have not abided by the conditions. We had earlier in December 2015 sent notices to these hospitals seeking their explanation as to why they failed to treat the poor and why they should not be fined. But none of them gave satisfactory replies, so we initiated action against them.’

‘The penalty has been imposed on the basis of a High Court order passed in 2007 on a PIL demanding implementation of the provision of free treatment to poor and action against the erring hospitals. And the fine amount has been calculated accordingly,’ Dr Prakash explained.

The hospitals have been asked to pay the amount by9 July, failing which further action will be initiated against them.

Fortis Healthcare’s subsidiary Escort Heart Institute and Research Centre has received an order to deposit Rs 503.36 crore for non-compliance with conditions of land allotment lease. ‘The management will challenge the same in the High Court of Delhi or such relevant authority to seek suitable legal remedies available to it under law,’ the hospital said in a statement.

Devki Devi Foundation, of which Max-Super Speciality Hospital in Saket is a unit, said, ‘We believe the order is unfair to us, we stand fully committed to discharging all our obligations towards economically weaker sections. We are extremely serious towards fulfilling our obligations. While we study the order in detail, we will prefer an appeal against this order in the appropriate forum.’

The director of Dharamshila Cancer Hospital Suversha Khanna said they would challenge the order in the court.

It may be noted that a total of 43 private hospitals in Delhi were allotted land at concessional rates on the condition that they would keep 10 per cent of their in-patient department capacity and 25 per cent of out-patient department capacity to treat patients from economically weaker sections (EWS) free of cost.