Case Comment: K. Mani v. Secretary to Gov., Health & Family Welfare Dept., Chennai

FACTS

In the above-mentioned case, the petitioner was a head constable in the Katchampatty police station in Tamil Nadu. On 10 November 2002, while being on duty, he developed a sudden cardiac problem. He was then rushed to the government hospital. There he was given adequate first aid and was further admitted to the Appollo Hospital for better treatment. Thereafter, he was advised to undergo a corollary angiogram for the treatment of detected block in his heart. Keeping in mind the seriousness of the disease, the surgery was performed on 12 November 2002. Further on 19 November, an angioplasty was performed for the critical condition he was in and later on he was discharged on 22 November.

The petitioner had incurred a total sum of Rs 1,88,497 for his entire medical treatment. His representation of receipt for reimbursement was subsequently declined by second respondent stating that the kind of treatment availed by the petitioner does not attract any provision. A subsequent representation was also made by the petitioner. Further a writ petition was filed in the concerned high court. The matter was conveyed to the Dean of Government General Hospital. A valid report was then transferred to the cardiology department of the said hospital. It was further stated that however the emergency treatment was not needed and it was not included in the G. O. Ms. No. 556, Finance (Salaries) Department but the charges paid by the petitioner were reasonable and valid.

ISSUE

The issue presented to the court in the concerned case is whether the mode of treatment availed by the petitioner attracts any provision for reimbursement or not. According to the respondent, the emergency treatment performed on the petitioner was not needed.

Also, the particular treatment was not included in the G. O. Ms. No. 556, Finance (Salaries) Department in the dates of 29 August 2000. However, the same nature of treatment was further added in the policy in the year of 2004. The dispute arose in the context of unnecessary treatment which was availed in a private hospital. There should not have been any difference of opinion in the matter of reimbursement as the aim of such policy is to ensure the health of employees and the method or mode of treatment should not come into question as long as there is a positive outcome of such treatments.

The petitioner files a writ in the concerned high court and seeks for an order to the respondents in view of obtaining the amount incurred in treatment. It is upon the court to examine the validity of writ petition under article 226.

RULE

The court, in reaching to a final decision, observed that Article 21 of the constitution binds the state to preserve the life of the citizens. Right to health is an integrated part of Article 21. Also, all the workers, whether in duty or post retirement must be protected within the ambit of fundamental right as mentioned in under article 21 along with articles 39(e), 41, 43 and 48A. Providing medical aids to the government workers is an essential duty of the state. Government workers are the protectors of common people and it is the prime duty of the state to protect them. The advent of article 38 of constitution and Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Convention has been seen in holding the judgement. In the present case, the court has also reiterated several judgements and case laws for obtaining a clear view on importance of health.  

ANALYSIS

The High Court laid importance on the right to health which is an integral part of right to life under Article 21 of constitution. In the purview of this, the court decided that no one shall be deprived of its basic fundamental rights. The petitioner is entitled to receive exact amount as a form of reimbursement. As being a public servant, the state owes a duty to look after such matters of its servants. Health is the basic right of all the citizens and mere nature of disease or treatment should not be taken into consideration while reimbursing expenses. In the present case, the petitioner went under such surgery as per the instructions of his doctor.

There is no mistake or fault on his part as issues of health cannot be ignored. The court did not take multiple sides while holding its decision. After reiterating several important judgements, it was decided that the writ petition filed by the petitioner stands firm under article 226. There is every possible reason to order the respondents in the favor of plaintiff. However, the court felt poor in observing that the matter of mode of treatment is being considered by the respondents in a situation where human life and dignity must be given importance.

According to article 38 of the constitution, workmen should be provided sufficient facilities for his health and healthcare. In addition to this, incidents of such cases with public servants evidently implies every possibility of depravation of basic rights of other citizens as well.

According to Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Convention, a civilized society guarantees basic rights to the human beings which includes right of food, water, clean environment, health and many more. Thus, in the concerned case, petitioner is entitled to his right of health which cannot be deprived by some policies of the state.

CONCLUSION

In light of the above case, the court upheld the writ petition and revoked the impugned order passed by the first respondent. It ordered the respondents to reimburse the total amount claimed by the petitioner within four weeks of receipt of copy of this order.


Author: Riddhi Kashyap from Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad.


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