The Supreme Court has ordered the government to conduct the general public’s PCR test free of cost.

Though a division bench of justices Ananda Mohan Bhattarai and Tanka Bahadur Moktan delivered the verdict on October 1, responding to a writ petition filed by advocates Lokendra Oli and Keshar Jung KC, the verdict’s full text was released only yesterday.

Petitioners had argued that all citizens had the right to seek basic health services free of cost as per Section 3 (4) of the Public Health Service Act.

The court has stated that COVID-19 is an infectious disease and as per the legal provisions everybody has the right to get free diagnosis and treatment for the disease.

The court also ordered that even those who were getting tested for their visa procedure should also not be charged money. “Nobody undergoes COVID-19 test out of desire, they do so out of compulsion,” the court observed.

The apex court also termed the government’s decision to not test asymptomatic people as unconstitutional and illegal, stating that asymptomatic infected persons could transmit the disease to healthy ones.

“The primary duty to enforce constitutional rights rests with the government. The government should expand the scope of tests and provide testing service free of cost, as per the constitutional provision,” the court observed.

It also asked the government to include COVID-19 in the list of infectious diseases in the new Public Health Service Regulation.

The court also reminded the government that the constitution was not a document to be forgotten in times of disasters and difficulties.

“Nobody has the liberty to flout the provision of the constitution. The constitution expects full honesty and commitment from office bearers of the state,” the court observed.