The Supreme Court on Wednesday requested the Centre to elucidate why medical doctors and health workers employed in private clinics and dispensaries have been stored out of a central insurance scheme that supplied ₹50 lakh cover for the households of frontline health workers who died combating Covid.
The scheme launched on March 28, 2020, beneath the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package (PMGKP) was titled ‘Insurance Scheme for Hospital Workers Fighting Covid-19’. Under it, a sum of ₹50 lakh was assured to health workers employed in public healthcare establishments and the identical was prolonged solely to these private hospital employees and contract workers whose providers have been “requisitioned” for Covid duties by the state or central authorities hospitals or autonomous establishments like All India Institute of Medical Sciences. Other circumstances hooked up to the scheme required the beneficiaries to be employed for Covid-related duties and their demise needed to be as a result of an infection.
Funds for the scheme have been allotted from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) and launched by means of the New India Assurance Company.
The bench of justices Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and BV Nagarathna stated, “Prima facie the objective of the scheme is to provide social security to health professionals in view of the risks they faced due to Covid-19, be it in public or private institutions.”
The courtroom was listening to an attraction filed by the relations of seven medical doctors of private institutions in Mumbai who died combating the pandemic throughout the first and second waves. They challenged an order of March 9 handed by the Bombay excessive courtroom which held that these not “requisitioned” by the state or Centre weren’t entitled to the insurance cover.
Issuing a discover to the Union ministry of health and household welfare and the Maharashtra authorities, the bench stated, “The matter raises issues of considerable public importance since it has bearing on the security of health professionals who served the nation during Covid-19.”
Though the petition earlier than the excessive courtroom was filed by the widow of a single medical practitioner, the highest courtroom allowed the relations of six different medical doctors to symbolize the attraction earlier than it, noting the “nationwide consequences” flowing from the petition.
The courtroom requested the solicitor normal of India to help in the matter when it comes up for listening to after three weeks to make sure that the target of the scheme is duly fulfilled.
The petition was argued by Pradeep Arora, one of the petitioners, who submitted that the HC order was incorrect because it failed to think about an order issued by the commissioner of Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation on March 31, 2020, directing all clinics and private medical institutions to stay open for serving Covid-19 sufferers when the nationwide lockdown was in place.
This got here on the heels of one other order of the state authorities on March 14 beneath the Epidemic Act, 1897, requiring all medical establishments to stay on the disposal of the municipal commissioner for steps to forestall and comprise Covid-19. Fearing felony motion, the medical doctors have been pressured to maintain their clinics open and, in the method, lost their lives treating sufferers.
The petitioner who approached Bombay excessive courtroom was one Kiran Bhaskar Surgade whose husband, having his private dispensary in Thane, succumbed to the an infection on June 10, 2020. She first approached the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation to say advantages beneath the PMGKP insurance scheme. On September 7, 2020, her declare was denied by the insurance company on the bottom that the private dispensary of her husband was not recognised as a Covid-19 dispensary. Surgade challenged this order earlier than the excessive courtroom.
While the problem was pending in the HC, the Maharashtra authorities wrote to the Union health secretary on October 1, 2020, on whether or not the profit beneath the central scheme could possibly be prolonged to all private practitioners. A fortnight later, the Centre responded by saying no profit could possibly be supplied to these not “requisitioned” by the Centre or states.
The HC relied closely on the Centre’s letter and dismissed the widow’s petition. It stated, “The letter (by the Union government) categorically states that for a private healthcare provider to be covered under the scheme, he or she must be ‘drafted’ by the state/Centre for Covid-19-related responsibilities.”
It added, “Considering that 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. Resultantly, no relief can be granted to the petitioner.”
In the HC, the Central Council of Indian Medicine and Maharashtra Council of Indian Medicine had supported the petitioner and demanded an extension of the scheme to cover all private medical doctors.