Government must take care of retirees’ medical needs: Himachal HC

Shimla, Dec 31 (IANS) The central government must fulfill the medical requirements of government employees after retirement as the right to health was a human right, the Himachal Pradesh High Court has ruled.

An employee 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, observed a division bench comprising Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Sureshwar Thakur.

They said the genuine requirements of a former employee for medical treatment cannot be permitted to be buried in the labyrinth of red tapism.

Dismissing an appeal filed by the central government, challenging an order of the Central Administrative Tribunal in favour of Shankar Lal Sharma, who underwent heart surgery after retirement and incurred an expenditure of Rs.1.8 lakh that the government declined to reimburse, the bench said the right to health was a human right.

“The action of the union of India not to reimburse the medical bills to the respondent and also not giving option to him and similarly situate people residing in a city not covered under the CGHS (Central Government Health Scheme) is illegal, arbitrary, capricious, discriminatory,” said the 101-page order provided to the media on Wednesday.

Not providing post-retirement medical care to retired government officials in a city not covered by the CGHS at par with in-service employees would result in violation of Article 21 of the Constitution, the judges said.

Moreover, they said, employees need medical care most after retirement.

The court said all central government pensioners residing in non-CGHS areas would be covered either under the Central Services (Medical Attendance) Rules of 1944 or CGHS as per their option to be sought for by the government within six months.

Henceforth, option of the employees be sought by the central government at the time of their retirement whether they want to be covered under the Central Services (Medical Attendance) Rules or under the CGHS.

In order to avoid litigation, the judgment was made applicable to all retired government officials residing in non-CGHS areas.

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