Medical reimbursement is an individual entitlement even for husband and wife similarly employed

High Court of Kerala: In an appeal against the judgment of a Single Judge Bench on the matter involving medical allowances to be granted to husband and wife employed under the same authority (Airport Authority of India), a Division Bench comprising of Navaniti Prasad Singh and Raja Vijayaraghavan, CJ and J. held that provisions pertaining to reimbursement in the nature of medical allowances cannot be applied in an arbitrary manner, putting persons to disadvantage merely by reason of marriage.

The stand of the Airport Authority was that if both husband and wife were employed under the authority, they had an option to nominate either of them to claim the allowance and only that person would be entitled for the same. On the other hand, the appellants contended that they were employees under their independent right, there being independent master-servant relationship as between them and the Airport authorities. Therefore, they had independent right to entitlements.

The Court upheld the appellants’ contention that employment contracts are independent and individual. However, it also added that for expenses incurred, herein in the form of medical expenses, there can be only one source of reimbursement and the same cannot be claimed again by the other spouse. Therefore, it was held that medical reimbursement is an individual entitlement and by reason of matrimony parties cannot be put to disadvantage. However, it was necessary to make sure that there was no duplication of claim for the same event. [S. Venugopal v. Airport Authority of India¸ 2017 SCC OnLine Ker 7397, decided on June 20, 2017]

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