Libertatem Magazine

Delhi High Court Deems Health Insurance Company as Essential Service Exempt From COVID-19 Restrictions

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Facts of the Case

The Petitioner is a health insurance company. The employees of the company deal with the issuance of medical/healthcare policies, cashless claims requests, and claims from policy-holders. The claims are filed online, courier, post, by hand and are submitted at the hospitals or Petitioner’s branch offices by policyholders, their family members, or their agents. The company has approximately 35 personnel to clear all the claims of patients suffering from COVID-19 or admitted to hospitals. Lockdown order issued on 19th April 2021, exempted essential services. The Delhi Government rejected the e-pass required to move from place to place to clear the insurance claims etc.

Arguments by Petitioner

The counsel for the Petitioner submits that the Govt. of NCT of Delhi has imposed lockdown and passed the order on 19th April 2021 through the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (`DDMA’). According to the said order insurance companies come under category 4 (l). The order mandates that persons in this category need an e-pass to move during the lockdown. The employees of the company applied for the same. But, all the applications have been ‘rejected’ without any reason. The screenshot of the Respondent’s website shows the rejection of the Petitioner’s application for e-pass.

Arguments by Respondent

The counsel for the Respondent submits that all the employees of the Petitioner come under Clause 4(l)(ii) of Medical insurance and health insurance services. He further submits that there are various discrepancies in the documents submitted by these employees. The employee is residing in one district but he has applied for an e-pass in a different district and due to which the issuance of e-passes is still pending. The counsel further added that the same has not been rejected.

Observation of the court

The Court observed that the notification/order dated 19th April 2021, consists of two classes of individuals who are granted exemption from the curfew restrictions. The first category of individuals is those who fall under categories 4(a) to 4(k). The individuals in this category are permitted to move after producing a valid Identity card, photo entry pass, or permission letters.

The second category of individuals are those who fall under categories 4(l) and 4(m) and they are permitted to move only after applying and obtaining an e-pass.

If the process of issuance of e-pass is difficult then it would result in enormous delays. The employees cannot be restrained as many are dependent on the clearance of health insurance claims for discharge from the hospitals.

Thus, the employees dealing with medical and health insurance services must be permitted to move between hospitals and their own offices to expedite the claims in a speedy manner.

Court’s Decision

The employees of the Petitioner are covered under Entry No. 4(d) of the order dated 19th April 2021, passed by the DDMA, GNCTD. The Petitioner shall email a complete list of the employees along with their Aadhar Card/ID Numbers and one common certificate. The Court allowed the application and ordered that the employees shall be exempted from the curfew restrictions.

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