The Union government on Friday told the Bombay High Court that only those healthcare providers, requisitioned to fight Covid-19, under the age of 55 years and who died on duty were covered under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) insurance package of Rs 50 lakh.
It was responding to a division bench of Justice S J Kathawalla and Justice R I Chagla, which was hearing a plea filed by Navi Mumbai resident Kiran Surgade, seeking a direction to the New India Assurance Company Limited to immediately disburse her claim of Rs 50 lakh under PMGKY.
The woman, in her plea filed through advocate Ajit Karwande, said that her husband, late Bhaskar Surgade, an Ayurveda doctor, used to practice in Navi Mumbai. During the early days of the lockdown, on March 31, last year, he had received a notice from the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation commissioner asking him to keep his dispensary open and warning that he will be prosecuted if he did not comply.
Kiran Surgade claimed that her husband had to open his clinic and treat patients, including those infected by Covid-19. He went on to contract the infection, leading to his death on June 10, 2020, the plea said.
Last August, she claimed a compensation of Rs 50 lakh from under PMGKY. However, the insurance company, next month, rejected her claim stating that the doctor was not serving in any hospital or government healthcare centre and thus, was not eligible under the scheme. Following this, the petitioner moved HC.
Advocate Sandesh Patil, appearing for the Centre, told the court that the insurance policy covers doctors, aged less than 55 years, requisitioned for Covid-19 duty.
“He was 56 years old. It is not applicable at all. Also, there was no pleading that he had been requestioned by a hospital and contracted Covid-19 there,” he added.
However, Surgade’s lawyer submitted that the scheme did not differentiate between “public” or private doctors.
After hearing submissions, the bench asked the Centre to obtain data from insurance companies on how many claims were received from the relatives of private doctors, who had opened their clinics during the pandemic, treated patients and then succumbed to Covid-19.
Seeking a short affidavit in reply from the Centre by January 11, the court posted the matter for hearing on January 13.
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