Centre has freedom to amend its CGHS scheme : Delhi High Court

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday declined to interfere with the modified Central Government Health Services (CGHS) scheme, saying it is for the Centre to decide how to give health benefits and supply medicines to its serving and retired employees.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar said prima facie the modified policy creates no hurdles in supply of medicines to the central government employees and also curbs misuse of the scheme as was being allegedly done in the past.

The observation came while dismissing a PIL challenging an e-tender issued for empanelment of authorised local chemists under the modified CGHS scheme for the national capital area. The petition had opposed the modified scheme also.

Under the earlier scheme, if medicines prescribed by a doctor were not available at a wellness centre or dispensary, an authorisation slip was issued to the patient for procuring the medicine from a local chemist, the Health Ministry told the court.

Under the new scheme, it said, if medicine was not available at the dispensary, the local empanelled chemist supplies it to the wellness centre which in turn provides it to the patient.

The central government further said the scheme was modified as earlier patients used to use the authorisation slip for buying toothbrushes, toothpastes, Horlicks and cosmetics from the chemist shop.

Noting the submission of the ministry, the bench said under the new scheme requirement of issuance of authorisation slip has been given a go-bye and “therefore, chance to buy toothbrushes, toothpastes, Horlicks and cosmetics has been brought down to zero as now medicines will come to wellness centre and patients need not go to the chemists”.

The court noted the ministry’s claim that subsequent to the modification in the scheme, participation by chemists has increased and they were offering better discounts than in the past, and said,”we see no reason to interfere with the modified CGHS policy.

“The government has to be given free movement in the joints. The government should be given the freedom to amend the schemes. More the misuse of a scheme, more tight would be the procedural aspect in grant of benefits. Sometimes government may also close down the scheme if it is being misused,” the bench said.

It noted under the new scheme there was no contact between the beneficiary and the local chemist, due to which “loss may have been caused to chemists as they can no longer sell toothpaste, toothbrushes, Horlicks and cosmetics instead of medicines”.

“However, we are not concerned by loss to chemists. We are only concerned that the benefits reach the central government employees. We, therefore, see no reason to interfere with the modified scheme or the notice inviting tender floated by the central government,” the court added.

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