Both constitutional and statutory obligation of state to bear medical expense of government servant and his family:Kerala High Court

The statutory and constitutional obligation of state to bear the expenses and reimburse for medical treatment of government servant and his family even if treatment took place in private hospital instead of government hospital was upheld by High Court of Kerala at Ernakulam through a bench led by  HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE MURALI PUROSHOTHAMAN  in the case of Dr. George Thomas & Anr. vs. State of Kerala & Ors. (W.P.(C) 3295/2021).

Brief facts of the case are that a petition filed by an Assistant Professor at the Catholicate College and her father, who was completely dependent on her and was recently diagnosed with cancer.He was taken to a specialized private hospital for treatment recognized for the purpose of receiving reimbursement benefits under Kerala Civil Servants Medical Attendance Rules. He had surgery in the Laproscopic Department in 2018, after which the petitioner applied for reimbursement. In late 2020, the government issued a circular if treatment is not provided at a state-recognized private hospital and medical reimbursement was denied. This situation prompted the petitioner to approach to the Supreme Court.

The counsel for the petitioners contended that the Hospital’s Department of Medical and Surgical Oncology was recognized and recommended by the government and therefore the refusal of reimbursement could not be sustained on the grounds that the procedure was performed laparoscopically.

The counsel for the respondent contended that in light of the financial constraints posed by the pandemic in the recent past, State had decided to adhere to stricter conditions for reimbursement of medical treatments.

The Kerala High Court held that the government, as per its policy, is constitutionally and statutorily obligated to cover and reimburse the costs incurred by government servants for medical treatment. Pursuant to the Rules framed in the exercise of the powers under Article 309, a request for reimbursement may be accepted even if the hospital where the treatment is performed is a private hospital, provided that it is arranged in accordance with the Rules. The hospital met the criteria and the procedure is part of the medical and oncological treatment. Hence, the court ordered the State to reconsider the petitioner’ application for reimbursement within two months.

Click here to read the judgement

Judgement reviewed by- Bhaswati Goldar

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