Railways employee cannot ‘disown’ wife, daughter, says Delhi HC, directs Northern Railways to include their names in medical card
The Delhi high court had directed Northern Railways to provide separate medical cards and privilege passes to the wife and daughter of a former railway employee who claims to have disowned them. The Retired Employees Liberalised Health Scheme (REHLS) card permits both the unmarried daughter and the wife suffering from chronic ailments to avail free health services from railway hospitals. The Northern Railways employee, before his retirement in 2012 had removed the names of the dependents, his wife and their daughter, from the medical card thereby disentitling them to free, necessary and otherwise expensive medical services. This was done by applying for a duplicate medical card and omitting their names from the ‘dependents’ column of the new card. Arguing on the behalf of the wife and daughter, HRLN appealed to the court that there was no separation of marital ties between the man and his wife and thus he cannot ‘disown’ them. The mother and the daughter have for two decades been the recipients of the medical benefits and railway passes in the name of the employee, and the Northern Railways argued that without a declaration from him, no medical card can be issued to the ‘family’. Due to her age and chronic ailments she suffers from, the wife is unemployable, and the daughter has chosen not to secure employment in order to care for her ailing mother. As an employer, the government must ensure the health of its employees. The decision of Northern Railways ultimately denies them of essential healthcare services, which remain otherwise inaccessible to them. The court after examining the facts and observations, directed Northern Railways to include both the wife’s and the daughter’s names in the employee’s medical card and to issue them a new medical card and a privilege pass, the directions to be complied within four weeks.