The Himachal Pradesh High Court has today ruled in favor of the retirees, by saying that the central government must fulfill the medical requirements of retired government employees, as right to health is a human right. The verdict was made in favor of the Central Administrative Tribunals’ backing 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 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 by a division bench comprising Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Sureshwar Thakur.
The Bench held that the genuine requirements of a former employee for medical treatment cannot be permitted to be buried in the labyrinth of red tapism. They also said that, 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 observed that 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. The Bench ordered that 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.