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The Kerala High Court ruled that employer-issued circulars cannot restrict an employee’s ability to receive treatment from the hospital of their choice.

Case Title: THE AREA MANAGER, FOOD CORPORATION OF INDIA Versus SHRI. P.T.RAJEEVAN

Case No: MFA (ECC) NO.52 OF 2018

Decided on: 30th April , 2024

Quorum: HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE G.GIRISH

Facts of the case

The respondent, Shri P.T. Rajeevan, worked as a head load worker for the appellant, Food Corporation of India (FCI). After an accident in 2014, he sustained injuries and had to pay ₹35,001 in hospital bills.

Issues

1. Can an employer’s circulars restrict an employee’s ability to receive medical care at a hospital of their choosing?

Legal Provisions

The issue concerned the interpretation of Employees’ Compensation Act, 1923, Section 4(2A), which addresses the payment of an employee’s actual medical expenses for treating injuries sustained while on the job.

Appellant’s Contentions

As mandated by Circular No. 10/2005, the respondent was not treated at one of the hospitals affiliated with FCI, hence the appellant, FCI, argued that the medical expenditures should not be paid.

Respondent’s Contentions

The respondent contended that rather than using the Employees’ Compensation Commissioner’s (ECC) figure of ₹20,000, the compensation ought to have been computed using his true monthly income of ₹29,500. In addition, he argued that, notwithstanding the employer’s guidelines, he was entitled to receive medical care from any facility of his choosing.

Court Analysis and Judgement

The Kerala High Court ruled that employer-issued circulars cannot restrict an employee’s ability to receive treatment from the hospital of their choice. The court noted that no circular could supersede the social welfare statute known as the Employees’ Compensation Act. The court determined that the appellant’s challenge to this award was without merit and affirmed the ECC’s decision to pay the medical expenditures.

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Judgement Analysis Written by – K.Immey Grace

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