The Kerala High Court ruled that the Government is constitutionally and statutorily obliged to provide for and bear expenses incurred by government servants for medical treatment as per its policy.
The petitioner is working as an Assistant Professor in Catholicate College, Pathanamthitta. The other petitioner, the father of the 1st petitioner who is wholly dependent on the 1st petitioner, sought treatment in General Hospital, Pathanamthitta and was diagnosed with Carcinoma Rectum and was referred to higher centers. Accordingly, he was taken to the Medical and Surgical Oncology Department of the St. Gregorious Medical Mission Hospital, Pathanamthitta which is a private specialty hospital for Cancer treatment. The Consultant Medical Oncologist opined that the petitioner has to undergo surgery and accordingly he was operated in the Laparoscopic Department of St. Gregorious Medical Mission Hospital. The Government have issued an order empanelling certain private hospitals for treatment to facilitate medical reimbursement benefits under the Kerala Government Servants Medical Attendance Rules, 1960.
Advocate Jacob, appearing for the petitioners, contended that, the claim for reimbursement is admissible even if the hospital from which the treatment is availed is a private hospital.
Advocate Jimmy George, appearing for the state, argued that, based on the present financial constraints, the Government by circular has decided not to give the reimbursement to patients who had taken treatment from private hospitals other than the empaneled one and since the General and Laparoscopic surgery department of St. Gregorious Medical Mission Hospital from where the petitioner has received the treatment was not recognized by the Government.
The single judge bench of Justice Murali Purushothaman stated that In the backdrop of Article 21 of the Constitution of India and the Rules issued under the proviso to Article 309, it is impermissible for the respondents to reject the claim of the petitioner for reimbursement of the bills for the reasons stated in Ext. P8 and set aside the Ext. P8.
The court ordered that the petitioner shall resubmit the applications and bills returned by the respondent through the Principal of the College and the respondent shall forward Ext. P3 and Ext. P4 series, Ext. P5 and Ext. P6 to the respondent within two weeks of receipt of the same and the 1st respondent shall consider the same afresh in the light of the findings in this judgment and in accordance with law within two months.
Case title: Dr.George Thomas and Ors. v/s State of Kerala and Anr.
Citation: WP(C) NO. 3295 OF 2021