Gujarat: HC directs authorities to reimburse medical expenses of Retired teacher of Grant-In-Aid Primary School
The petitioner, irrespective of the fact of having served as a primary teacher in a grant-in-aid school cannot now be denied medical reimbursement on the ground that there is no policy for the teacher of the primary schools working in the grant-in-aid institutions.
Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court, in its order has directed the state authorities to reimburse the medical expenses borne by a retired primary school teacher for her pacemaker implantation, citing medical reimbursement as a right guaranteed under the right to life.
The petitioner who is a retired primary school teacher had undergone pacemaker implantation at CIMS Hospital, following which he had applied for reimbursement. However, the District Primary Education Officer had dismissed the reimbursement with the reason that there was no policy of reimbursement for teachers working at Grant-in-Aid Primary Schools.
The petition was filed by the retired teacher as the officials had refused to reimburse the medical expenses worth Rs.4,17,385, reports the Live Law. The petitioner alleged that the officials had done an illegal act by refusing medical reimbursement as the petitioner was a retired employee drawing pension payable by the State. the petitioner stated that she was a retired government employee under the Gujarat Civil Services (Medical Treatment) Rules, 2015. And according to the Division Bench of this Court, the State could not discriminate between primary and secondary teachers getting pensions.
The single judge bench of Justice Biren Vaishnav stated that the petitioner is entitled to reimbursement under Gujarat Civil Service (Medical Treatment) Rules, 2015. It stated, "The petitioner, irrespective of the fact of having served as a primary teacher in a grant-in-aid school cannot now be denied medical reimbursement on the ground that there is no policy for the teacher of the primary schools working in the grant-in-aid institutions."
The court held that the reimbursement could not be refused to the petitioner on the ground of the petitioner's position as a primary teacher in a grant-in-aid school. It relied on a Division Bench order in LPA No. 32/1998, which had also similarly observed, "Working of teachers whether in Primary Schools or in Colleges/Higher Secondary Schools/Secondary Schools has no nexus with the requirement and object for payment of the medical allowance. The need for medical aid is common to all and under Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India neither equals can be treated in an unequal manner, nor unequal can be treated in an equal manner, nor the State can act in an arbitrary or unreasonable or irrational manner subject to the permissible reasonable classification. We do not find any basis for any reasonable classification to classify the teachers of Primary Schools differently vis-à-vis the teachers of similarly situated Government recognised and Government aided Colleges/Higher Secondary Schools/Secondary Schools."
Meanwhile, the High Court observed that the state had given her the reimbursement when she had undergone the same process at a different hospital in 2007. Since the state did not deny this fact, the court held that the state therefore could not argue that primary teachers were not covered by the medical reimbursement policy.
The court also relied on the State of Punjab vs Ram Lubhaya Bagga (1998) 4 SCC 117 to highlight that medical reimbursement is a right guaranteed as a right to life, in which the Supreme Court had held that maintaining the health of the citizens should be a top priority for a Welfare State since it will benefit the State in achieving its social political and economic goals.
The court held, "The respondents are directed to reimburse the medical expenses for the pacemaker implantation undergone on 26.12.2019 carried out at CIMS at the rates of the recognised hospital, namely SAL Hospital where the Petitioner had earlier undergone the same procedure in the year 2007. The Petitioner, is a retired pensioner, aged 74, the amount so calculated as above towards medical reimbursement shall be paid within 10 weeks from the date of receipt of this order. A petition is allowed to the aforesaid extent. The rule is made absolute. Direct service is permitted."
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