Delhi High Court: In a writ petition filed by an Additional District Judge for reimbursement of his treatment charges during Covid-19, the Single Judge Bench of Rekha Palli, J. directed the Government of NCT of Delhi to reimburse the remaining amount of Rs. 16,93,880 towards the cost of Covid-19 treatment incurred by an Additional District Judge during the pandemic.
Petitioner was posted as the Additional District Judge and had approached this Court, as respondents had refused to reimburse in full the expenses incurred by him for his medical treatment while he was admitted in the hospital (Respondent 5) on account of Covid-19.
Submissions on behalf of the Petitioner
Counsel for the petitioner states that the respondents do not dispute the fact that the petitioner was undergoing treatment for Covid-19 at the hospital and since there were no beds available in an empanelled hospital in the NCT of Delhi, the petitioner, due to his dropping levels of oxygen, had to be rushed to the nearest hospital (Respondent 5). Being in a helpless stage, the petitioner had no other option but to pay the entire amount of Rs. 24,02,380 to the hospital against the appropriate receipts.
Based on recommendations made by the Technical Standing Committee constituted by respondents, the hospital reimbursed only Rs. 7,08,500 and refused to pay the balance amount of Rs. 16,93,880 on the ground that this amount was charged by the hospital by ignoring the rates prescribed under the circular issued by the Government of NCT of Delhi, fixing the charges leviable for treatment of patients suffering from Covid-19.
Further, it was submitted that the petitioner cannot be penalized for the hospital charging amounts higher than what was prescribed by the Government of NCT of Delhi (Respondent 1) and if in case, the hospital had acted in violation of the circular, then it is for the Government of NCT of Delhi to act against the hospital and make recoveries, if any.
Submissions on behalf of the Respondent
Counsel for the respondent submitted that the hospital should be directed to explain as to why it had not abided by the circular and should further, be directed to refund the excessive amounts charged from the petitioner which were way above the rates prescribed in the circular.
Analysis, Law, and Decision
The Court opined that the petitioner, who had spent his hard-earned savings, while undergoing treatment to save his life, cannot be told that, since the hospital had failed to abide by the circular issued by the Government of NCT of Delhi, he should seek refund from the said hospital which saved his life. The Court did not find it necessary to delve into the circular’s validity as in the present case, the petitioner was seeking reimbursement of the amount for the bona fide expenses incurred by him for his treatment at the hospital.
The Court relied on Sqn. Commander Randeep Kumar Rana v. Union of India, 2004 SCC OnLine Del 333, wherein the Division Bench while dealing with a case, where the hospital had charged over and above package rates, held that the employer was under an obligation to pay to the government employee, and could make appropriate recoveries in accordance with law, from the hospital which had overcharged him.
The Court held that the Government of NCT of Delhi had to reimburse the petitioner by paying him the differential amount of Rs. 16,93,880 and since this Court had bot expressed any opinion on the validity of the circular, therefore, it would be open for Government of NCT of Delhi to pursue its remedy as per law, against the hospital, including taking penal action, and recovery of any amount which it perceives had been charged in excess. Thus, the Court directed the Government to pay within four weeks the balance amount of Rs. 16,93,880 to the petitioner.
[Dinesh Kumar v. Govt (NCT of Delhi), 2022 SCC OnLine Del 3937, decided on 22-11-2022]
Advocates who appeared in this case:
For the Petitioner(s): Senior Advocate J.P. Sengh;
Advocate Ashim Shridhar;
Advocate Manhisha Mehta;
For the Respondent(s): Senior Counsel Avnish Ahlawat;
Advocate Laavanya Kaushik;
Advocate N.K. Singh;
Advocate Aliza Alam.