Meghalaya High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Meghalaya High Court : The Division Bench of Sanjib Banerjee, CJ. and W. Diengdoh, J. took cognizance of a petition in relation to the current health-care system. 

The State mentions the project funded by the World Bank in association with the Ministry of External Affairs that could see a sum of Rs. 371 crore invested in the State over a period of five years to augment the health-care system  acknowledging  that a lot more needs to be done to improve the health-care system. A report was brought on record revealing that smoking and drinking is the highest in the country in the North-East. Yet, there is no dedicated cancer hospital in the State. Though a cancer unit has been set up at the Civil Hospital in Shillong but it still does not have adequate equipment. It was pointed out that there are no facilities for conducting biopsy in the State however the State controverts saying that two units have been set up recently in Tura and in Shillong which are capable of cancer diagnosis. 

The Court agreed that a lot more needs to be done to improve the health-care facilities in the State and it is just not acceptable that after 75 years of independence the facilities would be as primitive as they are now. There is no doubt that funds are essential, but the lack of funds cannot be an excuse to perpetuate the lack of rudimentary medical facilities.

There has to be an almost revolutionary improvement in the facilities to bring it at par with what is generally available in the rest of the country. Funds have to be found and extraordinary attempts have to be made for such purpose.

The Court also believed that apart from better facilities being created, awareness drives need to be undertaken, particularly in the rural areas so that certain common bad practices are eradicated in due course. 

The matter is to be taken up on 13-07-2022. 

[In Re suo motu cognizance of deficiencies in health services in the State of Meghalaya v. Union of India, PIL No. 3 of 2016, order dated: 09-06-2022] 


Appearance:  

For the Petitioners : Mr C.C.T. Sangma, Adv.  

For the Respondents : Mr A. Kumar, Advocate-General with Mr S. Sengupta, Addl. Sr. GA Ms R. Colney, GA Mr K. Paul, Sr. Adv. with Ms R. Dutta  

Appearance in MC (PIL) No. 3 of 2017:  

For the Applicant : In person  

For the Respondent : Mr K. Paul, Sr. Adv. with Ms R. Dutta 


*Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief. 

Kerala High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: Murali Purushothaman, J., held that there is a Constitutional as well a statutory obligation on the part of the State to bear the expenses for treatment of the government servant and his family.

Background

The petitioner, an Assistant Professor in Catholicate College had took his father, who was totally dependent on him for treatment General Hospital, Pathanamthitta wherein his father was diagnosed with Carcinoma Rectum and was referred to higher center. Accordingly, he was taken to Medical and Surgical Oncology Department of the St. Gregorious Medical Mission Hospital, Pathanamthitta, a private specialty hospital for Cancer treatment. Subsequently, his father had undergone surgery in the Laparoscopic Department of the that Hospital.

Noticeably, the Government had issued a Notification dated 21-01-2016 empanelling certain private hospitals for treatment to facilitate medical reimbursement benefits under the Kerala Government Servants Medical Attendance Rules, 1960. The name of St. Gregorious Medical Mission Hospital, Pathanamthitta was also appeared in the list of private hospitals recognised by the Government for treatment under Rule 8 (3) of the Rules and the Departments recommended included Medical and Surgical Oncology.

The grievance of the petitioner was that his request for reimbursement of Rs. 4,68,038, incurred by him for his father’s treatment had been rejected by the State on the ground that the department of Laparoscopic surgery at St. Gregorious Medical Mission Hospital was not empanelled under the Rules.

Observation and Analysis

Noticeably, for reimbursement request for the treatment undergone between 12-06-2018 and 23-06-2018, for Rs. 65,756 made by the petitioner an amount of Rs. 23,580 was held admissible by the State and accordingly Rs. 18,864 was sanctioned, being 80% of the amount found admissible. The government had that the petitioner’s father was referred to General and Laparoscopic Department by the Medical Oncologist and considering that the treatment was taken on reference from recognized department, sanction was accorded for reimbursement of 80% of the amount found admissible.

Laparoscopy (keyhole surgery) is one of the types of surgical procedure. Under the Rules, ‘medical attendance’ includes surgical treatment. The Laparoscopic surgery for Carcinoma Rectum is part of surgical treatment of the petitioner’s father. Therefore, opining that it is for the Doctor to decide how a patient should be treated and which surgical procedure is safer and suitable to the patient, the Bench held that when Medical and Surgical Oncology department of the Hospital had been recognised by the Government, the State could not reject the claim of the petitioner saying that the General and Laparoscopic surgery department was not recognized by the Government. The Bench opined,

“Undergoing Laparoscopic surgery for Carcinoma Rectum will not make the treatment as one done in a department other than the Medical and Surgical Oncology department in the Hospital. The procedure done and the treatments received at the Hospital is part of the medical and surgical oncology treatments of the petitioner’s father.”

Findings and Conclusion

The Kerala Government Servants Medical Attendance Rules, 1960 had been framed in exercise of the powers under the proviso to Article 309 of the Constitution of India. It provides for reimbursement of the medical expenses incurred by the government servants and their family as defined therein and subject to the conditions provided therein. Further, there is a Constitutional as well a statutory obligation on the part of the State to bear the expenses for treatment of the government servant and his family, therefore, the Bench was of the view that it was impermissible for the respondents to reject the claim of the petitioner for reimbursement of the bills. Accordingly, government order rejecting reimbursement was set aside.

Similarly, for medical reimbursement, what is relevant is whether the claimant had actually taken treatment and the factum of treatment. Since the fact that the petitioner’s father had surgery for Carcinoma Rectum and was treated in the Hospital during different spells was undisputed, the Bench concluded the action of the State was not legally sustainable. Therefore, the State was directed to consider the petitioner’s request afresh and disburse the amounts due to the petitioner pursuant to such within one month therefrom. [George Thomas v. State of Kerala, 2022 SCC OnLine Ker 613, decided on 31-01-2022]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this biref.


Appearance by:

For the Petitioners: Jacob P.Alex, Joseph P.Alex and Manu Sankar P., Advocates

For State: Jimmy George, Government Pleader

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Meghalaya High Court: The Division Bench of Ranjit More, CJ. and H.S.Thangkhiew, J., took up a petition which prayed for the following:

  • a writ in the nature of mandamus directing the Respondent’s authorities to utilize the amount of Rs. 19.84 crore received by the State Respondents and to constitute inquiry as to the in-ordinate delay in completion of the Cancer Treatment Centre at Civil Hospital, Shillong till date for the non-proper utilization of funds amounting to Rs. 26.16 crore sanctioned by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), Government of India.
  • a writ in the nature of mandamus directing the State Respondents to establish an Oncology Department in the various District Hospitals of the state so as to ensure the easy access of treatment to the cancer patients of the state.
  • a writ in the nature of mandamus directing the Respondents to improve the quality of cancer care treatment in their respective hospitals and also to strengthen the Community Health Centres (CHCs) and Primary Health Centres (PHCs) in early diagnosis and screening according to the Operational Guidelines of the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease & Stroke (NPCDCS), to establish Tertiary Cancer Care in the various districts and also to appoint specialist in the different oncology department of the respondents hospitals providing cancer treatment to the patients.
  • a writ in the nature of mandamus directing the Respondents to make cancer as a notifiable disease and to conduct mass awareness programmes or outreach programmes in sensitizing people about the various causes of cancer and the importance of early diagnosis.
  • a writ in the nature of mandamus directing the Respondents to include the remaining seven District of the states i.e. West Garo Hills (Tura), East Jaintia Hills (Khliehriat), East Garo Hills (Williamnagar), South Garo Hills (Baghmara), South West Garo Hills (Ampati), South West Khasi Hills (Mawkyrwat) and North Garo Hills (Resubelpara) in the State Population Based Cancer Registry (PCRB) programme so as to acquire the accurate data of patients suffering from the disease.
  • a writ in the nature of mandamus directing the state respondents to create a component under MHIS or a separate cancer patients fund for providing speedy, effective and better financial aid to the cancer patients of the state.
  • a writ in the nature of prohibition and mandamus directing the State Respondents not to allow the advertising agencies to publicly display any advertisements which will affect the health and safety of the people of the state especially the minors.

The petitioner contended that there was arbitrary and inordinate delay on the part of the respondents in establishing a comprehensive and modern cancer care facilities in the State of Meghalaya even after attaining forty-nine years of Statehood and that non-availability of a comprehensive Cancer Hospital and failure of the respondents to strengthen and establish screening centres for early detection and treatment of cancer in the Community Health Centres and Primary Health Centres have caused serious inconveniences and financial problems to the citizens of the State.

It was further grievance of the petitioner that though the Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India had sanctioned Rs.26.16 crore for establishment of a Cancer Treatment Centre at Civil Hospital, Shillong, however, due to lapses and negligence on the part of the concerned authorities, out of the amount of Rs.19.84 crore received by the State respondents, only Rs.9.77 crore of Utilization Certificates were furnished to the Government of India. The petitioner had also made grievance about the implementation of the Megha Health Insurance Scheme in the State of Meghalaya. In this regard, he contends that though the said scheme provides for financial aid amounting to Rs.5,00,000/- (Rupees Five lakhs) to all the citizens of the State, however, due to non-availability of the Cancer Hospital and medicines in the State, the said scheme has remained on paper only.

The Court was of the opinion that the issues in the PIL were of serious concern and the respondents needed to respond to the same, issuing a notice to the respondents.[Lurshaphrang Shongwan v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine Megh 205, order dated: 28-10-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioner/Appellant(s): In-person with Mr AG.Momin, Adv.

For the Respondent(s): Dr N.Mozika, Sr. Adv. With Ms T.Sutnga, Adv.


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.