HC says those sanctioning the claims should remember they may also fall sick and need money for treatment
Moved by the plight of a widow who had to move court seeking reimbursement of medical bills raised against treatment of her husband’s heart ailment way back in 2012, the Uttarakhand High Court has directed the state government to clear medical reimbursement bills of the employees within three months and provide life-saving drugs for cancer, heart ailments etc., free of cost.
“…the respondent-State is directed to ensure that all the medical reimbursement bills of the employees are cleared within a period of three months. The State Government is also directed to provide life-saving drugs for the treatment of cancer, heart ailment etc. free of cost to save the precious life,” said Justice Rajiv Sharma.
The court also directed the government to reimburse to the petitioner the sum of Rs. 2,54,083 as recommended by the Assistant Director within a period of six weeks with 12 percent interest.
The court’s order came on a petition filed by Deepa Pant whose husband was a government teacher.
He developed heart ailment and was rushed to Shri Rammurti Medical College, Bareilly, where he remained as an indoor patient from August 31, 2010, to September 6, 2010 and also operated upon. He breathed his last on July 13, 2011.
Pant’s counsel Chetan Joshi told the court that she had submitted medical reimbursement bills strictly as per the guidelines/instructions issued by the State of Uttarakhand in 2006. The Additional Director approved the same by making necessary deductions reducing the claim from Rs 3.22 lakh spent on his treatment to Rs 2.54 lakh. Thereafter, the District Education Officer sent the case to the Director in October 2012, but till date no decision has been taken on the reimbursement.
Justice Sharma noted that the only contingency for reimbursement of medical bills is that when the patient is sent out of the state for specialised treatment, a certificate to this effect has to be tendered by the patient or his dependent.
The court noted that in the instant case, a doctor of Shri Rammurti Medical College, Bareilly, had certified that the petitioner’s husband was admitted in emergency and was operated and treated.
“Right to get medical treatment is a fundamental right as enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Every citizen must get the medical assistance. The family is forced to spend money in grave medical emergency and may be by raising loans etc.,” said Justice Sharma.
“The case of the petitioner should have been considered in a humane manner. The higher authorities, who are required to sanction the amount, must also remember that they may also fall sick and money would be required for their treatment also.
“The state government is bound to clear all the medical reimbursement bills expeditiously to mitigate the hardship faced by the patient and his dependants,” said Justice Sharma while relying on a Supreme Court precedent from 1995 in case titled Consumer Education & Research Centre & Others V. Union Of India & Others, wherein it was held that the right to health and medical aid of workers during service and thereafter is a fundamental right.