M. Ramabhadra Rao v. Government of Andhra Pradesh

2005 (1) ALT 624
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Seven writ petitions were filed by members of the Higher Judicial Service and subordinate judiciary of the Andhra Pradesh High Court. The Court, however, for the sake of brevity, referred only to the facts of Writ Petition No. 21304 of 2001.

The Petitioner, M Ramabhadra Rao, was a retired District Judge governed by the A. P. Integrated Medical Attendance Rules, 1972, (the Rules) and the All India Services (Medical Attendance) Rules, 1954. He was therefore entitled to reimbursement of medical expenses for himself and his dependants. However, after obtaining emergency treatment for his wife he was reimbursed only partly by the Government, who was the Respondent in this case, despite procuring a referral from the Andhra Pradesh High Court for the full amount. The Respondent stated that they could not go beyond the ceiling limit established by the Rules.

Therefore the writ petition came to be filed in the Andhra Pradesh High Court challenging such action as ‘illegal, arbitrary, discriminatory and irrational’ under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. It sought for directions from the Court that entire expense be ordered to be reimbursed.

On the issue of payment, the Court held that the Government was not justified in imposing a limit on reimbursement. The reason was that the Rules do not provide for any ceiling limit except with respect to treatment availed of outside India. Moreover, the Court also held that if the concerned High Court had recommended a full reimbursement, the Government had no reason to reject it.

The Court also relied on the recommendations made by the Shetty Commission with regards to medical facilities for judicial officers, while stating that the right to health, medical aid and care are fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 21 read with Article 39(e) of the Constitution. The report of the Shetty Commission advocated, among other things, free of charge medical treatment for serving and retired judicial officers.

Thus the Court upheld the Petitioner’s right to full reimbursement as per the A.P. Integrated Medical Attendance Rules, 1972.

“It deserves to be noticed that right to health, medical aid and care have been recognized as fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 21 read with Article 39(e) of the Constitution. The Medical Attendance Rules do provide for free of charge medical treatment in Government hospitals or recognized private hospitals. In such an event, there is no question of imposing ceiling limit and we see no justifiable reason in the Government imposing any ceiling limit on medical expenses actually incurred by a Judicial Officer for his medical treatment or the medical treatment of his dependents.” Para. 11.

“Once medical facility is made available to Judicial Officers, it has to be made available in full so that its actual benefit can be availed of by the persons concerned.” Para. 11.
“But once the medical expenses have been duly certified and recommended for sanction, there cannot be any lawful justification in not reimbursing the amounts.” Para. 11.

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