|He had undergone angioplasty, but his claim for reimbursement was rejected|
CHENNAI: Concerned at government servants being forced to run from pillar to post for getting reimbursement of their medical expenses, the Madras High Court has asked the State Government to reimburse the claims of a head constable who had undergone angioplasty.
"If the government servants, including the members of the uniformed services, are driven from pillar to post in getting reimbursement of the expenses involved in saving their life, death will become inexpensive than a desire to live," said Justice K. Chandru.
The matter is related to head constable K. Mani, who developed cardiac problem while he was on duty in November 2002.
He was rushed first to the Government Hospital at Tirupattur and then to a private hospital in Chennai.
Since Mr. Mani was aged over 45, the doctors did not advise open heart or bypass surgery; instead he underwent angioplasty.
When he submitted a medical bill of Rs. 1.88 lakh along with receipts for reimbursement, the Director of Medical and Rural Health Services in Teynampet rejected the claims on the ground there was no provision for reimbursement of angioplasty expenses.
After the court asked the authorities concerned to consider the representation afresh, the Dean of the Government General Hospital said the treatment undergone by Mr. Mani was not urgent, and facilities were available at the Government General Hospital in Chennai itself. So, the head constable filed the present writ petition.
During arguments, the government advocate submitted that angioplasty was made eligible for reimbursement only in 2004, and that since the operation was performed in 2002, he could not claim the benefit.
Rejecting the submissions, Mr. Justice Chandru said: "It is not for any person to decide where they should get treatment so long as the Government Order provides for reimbursement."
Pointing out that the private hospital was in the list of approved hospitals, he cited the Dean's report, which said the charges were reasonable.
Referring to the notification of angioplasty in 2004, the judge said the order should be read as a clarification of the earlier order as it did not introduce any new amendment but only a different regime of treatment.
"Apart from protecting all the citizens of this country, there is a further obligation on the State to protect its own servants as guaranteed in the Constitution," Mr. Justice Chandru said.
"If this is the attitude of the State to protecting the lives of its constabulary, and that too, for a person having served its forces for 25 years, it is really a sad state of affairs." He then directed the Government to reimburse the medical expenses of Mr. Mani within four weeks.
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