• Niloy Subir Ghosh

Doctors Should Regard The Call For Service As A Call For Joining 'National Duty': Bombay HC

Updated: 6 days ago


Refusing interim relief in a plea against alleged arbitrary placement of doctors at various Government hospitals for one-year mandatory public service, The Bombay high court has remarked:

“In these difficult times of the pandemic, people in the rural areas need adequate medical treatment and we are of the prima facie opinion that doctors like the petitioners and the others should regard the call for service to be rendered as a call for joining ‘national duty’, so as to reach out to the distressed and the needy.”

This statement was made as a remark to a petition filed by three doctors who were representing themselves as well as 92 other doctors who have sought the same relief. The matter was heard by a bench consisting of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni.

The petitioners are doctors who have finished their graduation from a government medical college. They during their admission had executed a bond saying that they shall serve the state of Maharashtra for a period of one year after the completion of their graduation. The petitioners have completed their graduation and have received their medical degrees.

In view of the pandemic, the government requested for the placement of the petitioners to complete their period of service who’s bond they had executed during their admission. Accordingly, a list was published with their names and their allotted institution of service.

The petitioners have argued that the said list has been created arbitrarily without bearing in mind a binding decision of a co-ordinate Bench of this Court as well as ignoring the merits of the respective candidates. The petitioners in their writ petition had prayed for setting aside of the list as well for the state to display the available seats for those who had executed the bond and allow the candidates to fill up their preference which shall lead to selection based on merit.

The interim prayers which have been made in the writ petition substantially state the same except that instead of setting aside of the list, stay of operation thereof has been prayed for. The court here observed that since the principal relief and the interim relief being the same; The court needs to reconsider giving the interim relief.

The court relied on Deoraj vs. State of Maharashtra [AIR 2004 SC 1975] which has laid down that there have been cases wherein granting as well as withholding of interim relief have largely led to the dismissal or granting of the final relief itself. However, in such cases their being a very strong prima facie case the considerations of balance of convenience and irreparable injury forcefully tilting the balance of the case totally in favour of the applicant may persuade the court to grant an interim relief though it amounts to granting the final relief itself.

The court has held that in this case there appears to be no strong prima facie which shall warrant them interim relief. The court observed that the petitioners have to put in 9.5 months of compulsory service. Therefore, refusal to grant interim relief, as claimed, may not render the writ petition infructuous.

Another reason for refusing the interim relief which has been claimed is that it will cause more prejudice to respondents than refusal to grant interim relief would cause to the petitioners. The court then remarked that call for joining medical service should be rendered as a call for joining national duty so as to reach out to the needy and the distressed.

However, the Bench has agreed that the issues raised deserved expeditious consideration and disposal and further ordered the respondents to file a reply affidavit within 10 days. The court also held that the doctors have to report to their duty by 13th October.

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