No insurance cover to persons suffering from congenital anomalies: High Court

The Delhi High Court has asked the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDAI) to “explain the reasonableness” of not granting insurance cover to people suffering from congenital anomalies.
“What is the objection to giving insurance cover to them (people suffering from congenital anomalies),” a bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao asked the IRDAI and sought its response before the next date of hearing on December 17.
“Give the justification for such exclusion,” the court said to the insurance regulator.
The bench also issued notices to the General Insurance Council and the Life Insurance Council, which represent the entities that carry on the business of general and life insurance respectively, and sought their stand on the issue before the next date.
The court was hearing a PIL seeking directions to the Centre, the IRDAI and insurance companies to remove congenital anomalies, like external or internal abnormality in the womb, from the list of general exclusions in the health or life insurance policies.
The petition, by Nipun Malhotra, has challenged the “arbitrary” and “illegal” mechanisms adopted by the IRDAI in denying the rights of Persons with Disabilities (PwD) to seek insurance cover for themselves on the ground that their conditions are categorised under the scope of “congenital anomalies”, as defined under a July 29, 2016 circular by the regulator.
Congenital anomalies are also known as birth defects and could be caused by single gene defects, chromosomal disorders, multifactorial inheritance, environmental teratogens and micronutrient deficiencies.
Malhotra, a disability rights activist who suffers from locomotor disability from birth, has sought a direction to the IRDAI to remove the phrase ‘congenital anomalies’ from the standardised definition of the 2016 circulars.
He has also sought direction to take a relook at the exclusionary clauses in insurance contracts and ensure that insurance companies do not reject claims on the basis of exclusions related to congenital anomalies.
In his petition filed through advocate Jai Dehadrai, he has said the effect of the circular and regulations was that PwDs found it next to impossible to seek insurance cover, when undergoing any health related complications.

Don’t procure standard floor buses : Delhi High Court

 The Delhi High Court today asked the AAP government not to go ahead with its tender to purchase standard floor buses for the national capital, saying it would not allow the procurement as it would lead to violation of the fundamental rights of disabled persons who would find it difficult to access such vehicles.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar made it clear it was “not going to permit tender for standard floor buses to go through” and asked the Delhi government to “stay its hands”.

The bench was hearing a PIL by Nipun Malhotra, who suffers from a locomotor disability and has challenged the Delhi government’s move to procure 2,000 standard-floor buses at a cost of Rs 300 crore.

Advocate Jai Dehadrai, appearing for the petitioner, urged the bench to stay the tender floated for procurement of the standard floor buses.

The court, however, did not give a direction to this effect, as additional standing counsel Sanjoy Ghosh, representing the Delhi government in the matter, was not available today owing to a medical emergency in his family.

The court, meanwhile, directed the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) to design a module for training and sensitising its staff, especially drivers, towards the needs of persons with disabilities.

It issued the direction after noting that DTC drivers often stop or park the buses in the middle of the road, preventing disabled persons from accessing the vehicles.

With this direction, the court listed the matter for further hearing on March 19.

The court also gave the Delhi government time to file the minutes of the meetings held by the Chief Secretary with other high-level officials on formulating an action plan on the nature of parking spaces, their design and the time line within which the construction would be completed and their location.

The lawyer who was appearing for Delhi government told the bench that the Chief Secretary was unable to finalise the minutes of meeting due to some “ongoing issues”.

The bench also allowed an orthopaedic surgeon to intervene in the matter to assist the court on the difficulties faced by differently-abled persons with regard to mobility and travelling.

The court had on February 7 threatened to stay the Delhi government’s move to procure 1,000 low-floor electric buses instead of standard-floor CNG buses, if it did not have an action plan to provide parking space for the vehicles.

“Will these 1,000 buses fly in air,” the bench had asked the Delhi government and the Delhi Transport Corporation, after noting that purchase orders were issued without finalising a plan for parking space.

The court had said it wanted the action plan by today (February 28) and failure to do so would result in a stay on the tender as well as the initiation of contempt action against the officials concerned.