The High Court of Bombay
recently ruled thatPrivate medical practitioners who decided to keep their clinic open during the Covid-19 pandemic 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”.
A petition filed for compensation for her husands death due to Covid-19 virus was rejected by the bench of Justices Sharukh Kathawalla and Riyaz Chagla. The wife’s claim was rejected by New India Assurance Company on September 2020.
The Court noted, “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 wife, Surgade submitted to the Curt that her deceased husband received a notice from the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) commissioner, instructing him to open the dispensary he had and if he didn’t co-operate he would be prosecuted under section 188 (disobeying orders a public servant's orders) of the Indian Penal Code. It was claimed that the husband had to forcefully open his clinic to treat patients including those suffering from Covid-19 , because of which he contracted the virus and died June 10 of last year.
The petitioner approached New India Assurance for securing compensation of Rs.50 lakhs in reference to the PMGKY scheme, which was rejected, hence she was now approaching the High Court.
It was pointed out that the scheme did not lay down any difference better private and government doctors. The Bench observed, “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 Court added, “There is a difference betweenspecifically 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.”