Tripura High Court: Arindam Lodh, J., allowed a petition which was filed against the rejection of his application for reimbursement of medical bills by the State Finance Department and the Treasury Officer.

The petitioner was a retired Judicial Officer. In the year 2019, he went on a family tour and during travelling, he fell seriously ill and consulted with the Doctor and on an emergent situation he was compelled to be treated at the Asian Institute of Gastroenterology, Hyderabad. He also received further treatment at Kolkata the wife of the petitioner also had suddenly fallen ill in Kolkata and got treated in the Private Consulting Room of Prasida Ayurvedic Clinic, Kolkata. Since both the petitioner and his wife were on tour outside the State of Tripura and suddenly had suffered illness, they could not obtain referral certificate from the State Standing Medical Board. However, after returning to State, the petitioner submitted bills for reimbursement to the learned District & Sessions Judge, West Tripura Agartala. The said bills were forwarded to the Secretary of the Law Department, Government of Tripura by District and Sessions Judge. Objections were raised due to non-furnishing of referral certificate, Finance Department, Government of Tripura had regretted the medical bills of the petitioner, which compelled the petitioner to approach this Court for redress.

The Court after perusal of the facts and documents was of the opinion that it would be an absurdity for the petitioner and his wife to return to Agartala for the referral certificate from the competent medical board. Human life is precious. Article 21 of the Constitution of India enshrines the right to life which includes the valuable right to health. The Court further noted that present case was not the case where the petitioner at his own whims went to Hyderabad and Kolkata for his treatment. The sudden illness, the petitioner suffered in Hyderabad, was unforeseen and unexpected. Similar was the case of the wife of the petitioner who suddenly suffered illness in Kolkata and got treated to save her life.

The Court further relied on the judgment in Subal Das v. State of Tripura, WP(C) No. .895 of 2018 where it was held that,

“31. It should be kept in mind that the paramount consideration will be “emergency and its exigencies” considering a particular moment or situation faced by a patient, who may be an employee or family members of the employee. At the same time, this Court requests the State executives in the higher-ups of the administration to personally supervise these matters and not entirely depend upon the notes given by the staffs in the lower ranks, and furthermore, the officers should keep in mind the paramount considerations as are indicated above.”

The Court stated that to determine the emergent and immediate exigencies, the authorities concerned must be rationale to each and every separate and variable circumstances following Wednesbury’s Principle of Reasonableness so that it does not shock or hit the conscience of the Court, in addition, with utmost humane touch.

The Court while allowing the petition directed the respondents to reimburse the medical bills as forwarded by the learned District & Sessions Judge, West Tripura the respondent No.2 as well as the Law Department, Government of Tripura within a period of 3(three) months.[Jibesh Ranjan Datta v. State of Tripura,  2021 SCC OnLine Tri 452, decided on 07-09-2021]

Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

For the Petitioner(s) : Mr N. Majumder

For the Respondent(s) : Mr D. Bhattacharjee and  Mr. K. De

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