HC raps municipal bodies for taking subscriptions for cashless medical services and not providing it

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New Delhi, Jan 13 (PTI) The Delhi High Court on Wednesday pulled up the municipal corporations in the national capital for taking subscriptions for cashless medical facilities from its retired employees when the civic bodies had no contract with any hospital to provide the same, saying it amounted to cheating and criminal breach of trust.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh was also not pleased that the corporations were not paying the pensions of its retired employees on time.

'After taking a subscription (premium) from retired employees, how can you say a cashless facility was not available? How can you stop the pensions? We will stop the salaries of your officers,' the bench said.

'If you are taking subscriptions and not providing cashless facilities because you do not have any active contract with any hospital, then it amounts to criminal breach of trust. If you have not active contract, then why take the subscription? From December 2020 you are taking Rs 78,000 as subscription when you have no active contract. It amounts to cheating,' the bench further said.

The court further said that retired persons face a lot of difficulties in getting bills reimbursed and therefore, the corporations ought to have made arrangements with hospitals for providing cashless facilities.

It issued notice to the three municipal corporations and sought their response to a PIL by the Akhil Dilli Prathmik Shikshak Sangh, a teachers body, alleging inaction on the part of the civic bodies in providing cashless medical treatment to their retired teachers and other employees.

The court also asked them to indicate on affidavit till which month of 2020 have they cleared the medical bills for reimbursement submitted by the pensioners and listed the matter for hearing on January 22.

Of the three corporations, only South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) said that it was providing a cashless facility to its retired employees.

The teachers body, in its plea, has claimed that since the corporations have not paid the bills of the approved/empanelled hospitals, the retired employees have been facing extreme difficulties in getting medical treatment. 'Since, their pension is not released on time their difficulties get aggravated,' it has said and added that during the prevailing pandemic 'a large number of retired employees who did not receive pension on time had to face extreme hardships in arranging money for their treatment as the hospitals did not provide cashless treatment'. The teachers body has further said that 'the Delhi government provides cashless medical treatment to its employees which is actually cashless'. 'Under MCD the retired employees are being forced to spend their own money and thereafter run from pillar to post to get the reimbursement of money. This practice being followed by the MCD is not actually cashless,' it has said. The petition has sought directions to the three corporations to provide cashless medical services to their retired employees and to reimburse their medical bills without delay. PTI HMP RKS RKS