Doctor Asked To Keep Clinic Open During Pandemic Not Eligible For PMGKP Compensation Unless Requisitioned For COVID19 Duty : Bombay HC

first_imgNews UpdatesDoctor Asked To Keep Clinic Open During Pandemic Not Eligible For PMGKP Compensation Unless Requisitioned For COVID19 Duty : Bombay HC Sharmeen Hakim10 March 2021 3:01 AMShare This – xPrivate practitioners who opened up their clinics during the pandemic from the fear of FIRs being registered against them for disobeying the civic chief’s directions would not be eligible for the Rs. 50 lakh compensation under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package (PMGKP) if they succumbed to the virus unless they were specifically assigned to treat Covid-19 patients, the Bombay High…Your free access to Live Law has expiredTo read the article, get a premium account.Your Subscription Supports Independent JournalismSubscription starts from ₹ 599+GST (For 6 Months)View PlansPremium account gives you:Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.Subscribe NowAlready a subscriber?LoginPrivate practitioners who opened up their clinics during the pandemic from the fear of FIRs being registered against them for disobeying the civic chief’s directions would not be eligible for the Rs. 50 lakh compensation under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package (PMGKP) if they succumbed to the virus unless they were specifically assigned to treat Covid-19 patients, the Bombay High Court has said.A division bench of Justices Sharukh Kathawalla and Riyaz Chagla dismissed a petition filed by Navi Mumbai resident Kiran Surgade, seeking compensation for her husband’s death, who passed away due to the Covid-19 virus on June 10, 2020. Her claim under the PMGKP was rejected by New India Assurance Company on September 20, last year.”Considering that Dr Surgade’s services were not requisitioned as mandated under the Scheme, we are unable to extend the applicability of the Scheme to persons who fall outside the ambit thereof”, the Court said.The bench noted that Surgade had not challenged the constitutionality of the PMGKP scheme but sought inclusion in the policy. Surgade, in her petition, filed through advocate Ajit Karwande, said that her late husband, Bhaskar, an Ayurveda practitioner, received a notice on March 31, 2020, from the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) commissioner directing him to open up his dispensary, threatening him with prosecution u/s 188 (disobeying orders a public servant’s orders) of the IPC if he did not comply. The petitioner said that her husband was forced to re-open his clinic and treat patients, including those infected by Covid-19. He eventually contracted the virus and passed away on June 10, 2020. Surgade then approached New India Assurance, in August seeking compensation of Rs. 50 lakhs under the PMGKY scheme. However, her claim was rejected in September, following which she approached the HC. In a separate circular dated May 8,by the Directorate of Medical Education and Research had asked all registered homoeopathic and Ayurveda professionals to report to the government for least 15 days Covid duty, failing which action would be taken against them. Karwande argued that the scheme did not differentiate between private and government doctors. He vehemently submitted that Surgade’s services can be said to be requisitioned by the NMMC through the notice addressed to him. Now, the civic body could not claim he was not requisitioned. Appearing for Director, Health Department, Government of Maharashtra, Advocate Kavita N. Solunke submitted that Dr Surgade’s services were not requisitioned/drafted and therefore, the scheme would not apply to him. She said that Surgade did not respond to the May 8, 2020 notice. Twenty-two other identical claims were rejected, she submitted. Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, appearing on behalf of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, said that it wasn’t the case that Surgade responded to the circulars and remained present to be assigned covid-19 duties. Moreover, Surgade was not asked to open his dispensary under the scheme but under the Epidemic Diseases Act. Advocate Neel Helekar, appearing for the Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM) supported the petitioner to say that considering the facts and circumstances of the present pandemic situation, all the doctors (private as well as Government) serviced the society by putting their life in danger and therefore CCIM feels that The New India Assurance Company Limited should “reconsider” its decision. “At the outset, we express our utmost sympathy to the Petitioner and her family and enormously respect the duties carried out by Dr. Surgade. However, for this Order, we will restrict ourselves to the lis before us viz. whether or not benefits of the Scheme can be extended to the case of Dr. Surgade,” the Bench said. The bench observed that a plain reading of the notice sent to Dr Surgade cannot be misconstrued as a notice of requisition for the specific purpose of treating patients. “There is a difference between specifically requisitioning/drafting services and directing private practitioners to not keep their clinic closed,” the bench noted, adding, “The intent and object of the NMMC Notice was to encourage medical practitioners to keep open their dispensaries which were otherwise closed due to the fear of COVID-19. This notice did not mandate that the said dispensaries are to be kept open for COVID-19.”Click Hear To Download/Read JudgmentSubscribe to LiveLaw, enjoy Ad free version and other unlimited features, just INR 599 Click here to Subscribe. All payment options available.loading….Next Storylast_img read more