Devbrat Patnaik

New Delhi: Amidst the wait for DA and salary hike, here comes a major relief for the central government employees and pensioners. The Supreme Court recently delivered a verdict which states that reimbursement of medical bills cannot be denied to a central government employee either during service or after retirement if s/he does not seek treatment from a hospital that is not in the government panel or in the list of Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS)-empanelled hospitals.

The Apex Court, in its judgment on Saturday (February 6), made it clear that a central government employee or a pensioner can't be denied their entitlements, in this case, Mediclaim benefits, in case the beneficiary went for treatment at a hospital (even private), which is outside the CGHS panel, a report of India Today said.

This allowance relief has not just come as a blessing for the central government employees, but will also benefit retired central government employees or pensioners.

"The right to medical claim cannot be denied merely because the name of the hospital is not included in the government order," the bench of Justice RK Agrawal and Justice Ashok Bhushan was quoted as saying by India Today.

The Supreme Court delivered this judgement while hearing a petition filed by a retired central government employee who had sought treatment from two private hospitals and demanded the reimbursement of medical bills.

The Court has said that before any medical claim is honoured, the authorities need to verify whether the government employee or the pensioner claiming benefits had actually taken treatment and the factum of treatment is supported by records duly certified by Doctors/Hospitals concerned. Once these facts are established, the claim cannot be denied on technical grounds, SC reportedly said in its verdict.

Further, the Supreme Court stated that it is a settled legal position that the employee during his lifetime in service or post his retirement is "entitled to get the benefit of the medical facilities and no fetters can be placed on his rights".

Meanwhile, speculations are rife that the long wait of government employees with regard to a hike in dearness allowance (DA) of the employees, linked to the 7th Pay Commission payment system, will end soon as they are likely to get a piece of good news in a month or two. It is also expected that the Narendra Modi-led Central government will increase their salary apart from clearing the arrears.

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