Delhi HC: Rank immaterial after retirement

NEW DELHI: We, as a country, ruled first by the kings and chieftains and later by the British, have it ingrained in us, to respect and give priority in all walks of life to rank, office and wealth.

editorial@tribune.com

Ex-servicemen health scheme

BQ:

We, as a country, ruled first by the kings and chieftains and later by the British, have it ingrained in us, to respect and give priority in all walks of life to rank, office and wealth. Rank, office and wealth open doors to holders thereof without even there being any provision thereof in law, rules and regulations. — Delhi High Court

R Sedhuraman

Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, December 13

The Delhi High Court has taken exception to the preferential treatment being given to retired officers of the armed forces in the matter of health services, despite the fact that priority under the scheme was to be given to senior citizens and those disabled in war, irrespective of the position held by them.

“We, as a country, ruled first by the kings and chieftains and later by the British, have it ingrained in us, to respect and give priority in all walks of life to rank, office and wealth. Rank, office and wealth open doors to holders thereof without even there being any provision thereof in law, rules and regulations,” a Bench comprising Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw lamented.

Though the Constitution set the course right by ingraining therein the equality clause (Article 14) and by abolishing titles (Article 18), its objectives had not been achieved in practice in the last more than 65 years, the HC noted in a judgment on Friday.

The Bench, however, refused to issue any directive to the doctors and other staff of the Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) polyclinics for giving priority to white card holders (war-disabled, battle casualty disabled veteran, disabled beneficiary) and senior citizens (male 75 years and above, female 70 years and above) as pleaded by a PIL petitioner—Anti-Discrimination Core (ADC).

“We are in this matter faced with a practice which is as ancient as mountains in this country. The said situation in our view cannot be changed merely with directions of the court,” the Bench noted.

The only solution could be by building a consensus and creating awareness by imparting training to the doctors and staff of military, service and empanelled hospitals to attend to patients on appointment, first-come first-served basis or strictly going by rules.

Another way out could be to have separate timings for beneficiaries of the scheme.

The Bench forwarded the issues raised by the ADC to the ECHS Managing Director and directed him to address the problems in the “best possible manner” after considering its suggestions.

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