Shimla, December 30
The High Court has directed the Centre to ask employees at the time of their retirement if they want to be covered under the Central Service (Medical Allowance) CS (MA) Rules or the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS).
A division bench comprising Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Sureshwar Thakur, in order to avoid litigation, made it clear that the judgment was applicable to all retired government officials residing in non-CGHS areas.
The court observed: “There should be equality of health benefits to retirees. Right to health is a human right. The health of the people should be the supreme law based on the legal maxim ‘salus populi suprema lex esto’.”
The court passed the order in a case of medical reimbursement of a retired Central government employee. While dismissing the petition of the Central government, the court observed that a ‘socialist state’, as the Preamble depicts, is the basic structure of the Constitution of India read with other cognate Articles of Part-III and Part-IV of the Constitution of India. The ‘welfare of state’ is the basic feature of the Constitution of India. There is a difference between ‘basic structure’ and ‘basic feature’ of the Constitution. The action of the Union of India not to reimburse medical bills to the respondent and also not giving an option to him is illegal, arbitrary, capricious, discriminatory and in violation of Articles 14, 16 and 21 of the Constitution of India.
The court observed: “There cannot be any discrimination while extending the social benefits to serving and retired employees. It is the prime responsibility of the state to protect the health of its workers.”
It said: “The legislation and the policies of the state must be pro-poor, pro-Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes and other weaker sections, including the pensioners. The system must give due respect and maintain the dignity of the retired employees by providing them sufficient means, including good health care in their twilight years.”
The court observed: “The decision in matters pertaining to the health of the employee should be taken with utmost humane approach. A serving employee, who enjoys benefits under the CS(MA) Rules, 1944, cannot be left high and dry immediately after retirement for want of medical care. His medical issues are required to be looked into with more sensitivity, compassion and sympathy. His genuine requirements for medical treatment cannot be permitted to be buried in the labyrinth of red-tapism.”
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