Only private doctors on COVID duty covered by govt. insurance: Bombay High Court

The Bombay High Court has recently refused relief to the widow of a private doctor, who died of the Corona Virus, citing that the Rs. 50 lakh insurance cover under a Central scheme included only those private medical practitioners who were drafted for COVID-19 duties.

A division bench of Justices S J Kathawalla and R I Chagla dismissed the petition filed by Kiran Surgade, a Navi Mumbai resident, seeking Rs. 50 lakh cover under the ‘Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana’ (PMGKY) for her husband who died after contracting COVID-19 from a patient at his clinic.

The Plea:

According to the plea, the petitioner’s husband Bhaskar Surgade got a notice from the commissioner of the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC), asking him to keep his dispensary open and warned action if he fails to comply with the notice.

The petitioner claimed that her husband opened the clinic and started treating patients, including those infected by Corona Virus and he too contracted the disease and died of it on 10 June, 2020.

The judgment of the court:

The court said the NMMC notice only asked Bhaskar Surgade to keep his clinic open and the same cannot be construed as a notice requisitioning his services for the specific purpose of treating COVID-19 patients and/or working in a COVID-19 hospital.

The court further added, “There is a difference between specifically requisitioning/drafting services and directing private practitioners to not keep their clinic closed. The intent and object of the NMMC notice was to encourage medical practitioners to keep their dispensaries open,” the court said. “This notice did not mandate that the said dispensaries are to be kept open for COVID-19.”

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