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--------------- Print Magazine --------------
  May 2016
  April 2016
CASE STUDY - By Anoop K. Kaushal
Right Health is Integral to Right to Life
State of Punjab v. Mohinder Singh Chawla , AIR 1997 SC 1225

While the respondent was a Government servant, he had developed sudden coronory ailment. After required angiography and other reports, triple vessels disease was diagnosed in CMC Hospital , Ludhiana and he was recommended by the said hospital to go over to Escorts Hearts Institute, New Delhi for urgent treatment. On that basis, the respondent had the treatment. The Medical Board, granted by its proceedings dated January 12, 1969, ex-post facto sanction for treatment with one attendant. The appellant had granted reimbursement of a sum of Rs.1,03,267 less the rent paid for the room in the hospital for the period of stay. It was the Government's stand that the reimbursement could be allowed as per rates charged by All India Institute of Medical Sciences. Accordingly, a sum of Rs. 20,000 paid as rent was deducted. When the respondent filed the writ petition, the High Court, by judgment dated April 12, 1996 in CWP No.16570/95, allowed the writ petition. Government of Punjab appealed.

It was contended for the State that though the Government had granted ex-post facto sanction through the Medical Board and permitted the patient to undergo treatment outside the State with the policy, for reimbursement of medical expenses incurred and the medical treatment taken in the Hospital to the Government servant/pensioners or dependents, as per rules, the Government has imposed a condition to pay room rent at the rates charged by the AIIMS for stay in the hospital. The reimbursement will be given at those rates. The Government, therefore, was not obliged to pay the actual expenses incurred by the patient while taking the treatment as inpatient in the hospital, for rent.

Held : It is an admitted position that when specialised treatment was not available in the Hospitals maintained by the State of Punjab, permission and approval having been given by the Medical Board to the respondent to have the treatment in the approved hospitals and having referred him to the AIIMS for specialised treatment where he was admitted, necessarily, the expenses incurred towards room rent for stay in the hospital as an inpatient are an integral part of the expenses incurred for the said treatment. Take, for instance, a case where an inpatient facility is not available in a specialised hospital and the patient has to stay in a hotel while undergoing the treatment, during the required period, as certified by the doctor, necessarily, the expenses incurred would be an integral part of the expenditure incurred towards treatment .

It is now settled law that right to health is integral to right to life. Government has constitutional obligation to provide the health facilities. If the Government servant has suffered an ailment which requires treatment at a specialised approved hospital and on reference whereat the Government servant had undergone such treatment therein, it is but the duty of the State to bear the expenditure incurred by the Government servant. Expenditure, thus, incurred requires to be reimbursed by the State to the employee.

We appreciate the stand taken that greater allocation requires to be made to the general patients but unfortunately due attention for proper maintenance and treatment in Government Hospitals is not being given and mismanagement is not being prevented. Having had the constitutional obligation to bear the expenses for the Government servant while in service or after retirement from service, as per the policy of the Government, the Government is required to fulfil the constitutional obligation. Necessarily, the State has to bear the expenses incurred in that behalf.

Anoop K. Kaushal, Advocate - kaushal@justice.com
(Print Version)
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