The Delhi High Court has held that the benefits of the Delhi Government Employees Health Scheme (DGEHS) do not extend to all the members of the beneficiary.
The single bench of Justice Vibhu Bakhru noted that DGEHS was a contributory scheme, and the employee is conscious that it covers only specified family members. The court opined that the State has limited resources and medical facilities provided are necessarily confined within the resources available with the State. The manner in which the said resources have to be deployed is also to be determined by the State.
"It is important to bear in mind that DGEHS is a contributory scheme whereby an employee/superannuated employee becomes a member by making certain contribution. The amount of such contribution has, obviously, been determined keeping in view the coverage extended under the said Scheme. Any person becoming a member of DGEHS is fully aware as to which of his family members are entitled to medical care facilities under the Scheme. Since the Scheme does not extend to all dependants of the member, the said employee is fully aware that he/she is required to make other arrangements for taking care of the medical needs of other dependent members of his/her family who are not covered under DGEHS. The contention that since DGEHS covers some members of his/her family, the same should also extend to all other members who are equally part of his/her family, is unsustainable", observed Justice Bakhru in the judgment.
Exclusion of widowed Daughter in Laws in compassionate appointment schemes constitutionally impermissible : Chhattisgarh HC
The first petitioner Hukm Tejpratap Singh wanted the inclusion of his widowed daughter-in-law and grand child in the scheme. The petitioners' counsel Mahima Rathi and Mamta contended that excluding a widowed daughter-in-law from the definition of 'family' under the DGEHS Scheme while including a widowed daughter, is ex-facie discriminatory, and violated Article 14 of the Constitution. It was also contended that the aforesaid policy must be read in an expansive manner as it is a welfare scheme and thus, it must be read to extend to all dependants of the cardholder.
The counsel for the respondent, Mr Ramesh Singh, had submitted that the definition of the dependents who were covered within the definition of family was clearly stated in the Scheme and therefore, there was no occasion for reading the same in an expansive manner. Further, there was rationale in excluding a widowed daughter-in-law as she would be entitled to claim medical benefits if her father was a beneficiary under the Scheme.
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Justice Vibhu Bakhru agreed that a widowed daughter-in-law should be treated as part of husband's family.
"The concept that such daughter-in-law must go back and stay with her parents is abhorrent to a civilised society.", the judge observed.
In this regard, the single bench agreed with the decision of Allahabad High Court that a widowed daughter-in-law was entitled to compassionate appointment to considered for compassionate employment as a member of her husband's family.
However, that decision was distinguished in the instant case.
"The question whether a classification is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India must be examined in the context of whether such classification has a nexus with the object. Since the object was to provide employment to one of the family members, drawing a distinction between a widowed daughter and a widowed daughter-in- law would have no nexus with the said object", observed the court holding that the decision on compassionate employment was not applicable to the case.
The Court dismissed the claim of the petitioner by holding that medical care facilities under DGEHS are not extended to all family members of an employee/retired employee. The medical care benefits are limited only to such members of the family as is specified under the Scheme.
The Court therefore adopted a literal interpretation of the eligibility provision in the Scheme to hold that the same cannot be extended to the widowed daughter-in-law of the beneficiary.
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