Allahabad, Mar 17 (ILNS) The Allahabad High Court has quashed the order passed the Uttar Pradesh government, cancelling the affiliation of Dayal Nursing Home at Mundera in Prayagraj on charges of forgery in the ‘Ayushman Bharat’ scheme and the ‘Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya’ scheme, calling it contrary to natural justice.
The Division Bench of Justices SP Kesharwani and RN Tilhari on Monday passed this order, while hearing a Writ Petition filed by Mukesh Tandon.
According to the petitioner, he owns and runs a Hospital under the name and style of ‘Dayal Nursing Home,’ having its registered office at A-1 HIG, Mundera, Prayagraj. The hospital is empanelled under the scheme of the Central government, called the ‘Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY)’.
Earlier, the scheme was known as Ayushman Bharat Jan Arogya Yojana. According to the respondents, on receipt of certain information from the National Anti Fraud Unit (NAFU) with respect to the working of the petitioner’s hospital, the same was put on ‘Watch-List’ of the State Anti Fraud Unit (SAFU).
A Super specialist was hired by the State Health Agency (SHA) called Avighna Mednet (OPC) Pvt Ltd, which submitted its analysis report. On the basis of alleged prima facie fraudulent activity, the empanelment of the petitioner’s hospital was suspended by the December 4, 2020 order with immediate effect, by the State Health Agency.
The Court said, “Counsel for the Petitioner and Counsels for the respondents both jointly stated before us that the procedure has been followed till the stage of suspension and, therefore, that may not be interfered at this stage. Accordingly, we hold that the suspension of empanelment of the Petitioner’s hospital dated December 04, 2020 shall continue and shall be subject to the final decision, as may be taken by the competent authority, in accordance with law.”
Breach of principles of natural justice is an important issue involved in the writ petition. It has been submitted by the Counsel for the petitioner that the order has been passed without showcause notices and thus, the principles of natural justice has been violated. The first and foremost principle of natural justice is commonly known as audi alteram partem rule. It says that no one should be condemned unheard. Notice is the first limb of this principle. It must be precise and unambiguous. It should appraise the party determinatively the case he has to meet, the Bench observed.
It said, “The principles of natural justice are those rules, which have been laid down by the Courts as being the minimum protection of the rights of the individual against the arbitrary procedure that may be adopted by a judicial, quasi-judicial and administrative authority while making an order affecting those rights. These rules are intended to prevent such authority from doing injustice. Even an administrative order, which involves civil consequences, must be consistent with the rules of natural justice.”
The Court stated that natural justice has been variously defined by different Judges, for instance a duty to act fairly, the substantial requirements of justice, the natural sense of what is right and wrong, fundamental justice and fair-play in action. Over the years by a process of judicial interpretation, two rules have been evolved as representing the principles of natural justice in judicial process, including therein quasi-judicial and administrative process.
The Bench further said, “Counsel for the respondents has stated before us on instruction that no showcause notice was issued to the Petitioner’s hospital before passing the final order of De-empanelment and the imposition of the penalty. Thus, we find that non-issuance of showcause notice to the petitioner’s hospital before passing the final order, has resulted in breach of principle of natural justice.
“Since it is admitted case of the respondents that neither any showcause notice was issued, nor any opportunity of hearing was afforded to the petitioner confronting with the material available in the hands of the respondents, therefore, the order dated December 24, 2020 passed by the Chief Executive Officer of State Health Agency (SHA), UP, cannot be sustained and is hereby quashed”, the order read.
The Court disposed the Writ Petition with the following directions:‐
(i) The concerned authority shall follow the procedure as provided in Step-5 of Part-B of Para 1.10 of the guidelines and pass a final order within 30 days after affording a reasonable opportunity of hearing to the petitioner.
(ii) The order of suspension dated December 4, 2020 shall remain subject to the final order as may be passed by the competent authority regarding De‐ empanelment and penalty, if any.
(iii) The competent authority shall take decision in accordance with law without being influenced by any of the observations on merits of the case made by this Court in the body of this order. ILNS/JR