The Madhya Pradesh High Court has held that in the absence of specific categorization, Government Doctors and medical officers working in Civil and District Hospitals are also entitled to benefit of reservation meant for in-service doctors in the PG Medical Courses and the counseling to be conducted by the State Government.
This ruling has come from the Division Bench of Justice Sujoy Paul and Justice Arun Sharma while quashing the merit list prepared by the state government prior to the upcoming PG Medical Counselling, meant for in-service doctors, directing the State to Revise and extend the benefit to the Petitioners Doctors.
The case in brief
It may be noted that Supreme Court has, in the matter of TN Medical Officers Association vs. State of Tamil Nadu & Ors. paved the way out for the State Governments to create a separate channel of entry by creating reservations for Government Doctors and medical officers in the PG Medical and Degree Courses.
In accordance with the said judgment, the State of Madhya Pradesh w.e.f. this year had introduced a reservation of 30% as a separate channel of entry for all the Government doctors and Medical Officers, including those working on a contractual basis.
However, when the merit list was issued, all the Doctors of the State working in District and Civil hospitals were excluded. This move of the State Government prompted the petitioners (MBBS-qualified doctors rendering their services as regular employees in the State Department of Health Services) to approach the High Court challenging their exclusion from the dedicated merit list of 30% in-service doctors.
Through their counsel Siddharth R. Gupta, the doctors/petitioners had pleaded that 'a class within class discrimination' was meeted out by the State to Doctors having worked for years in District and Civil Hospitals is alien to the statutory provisions framed by the State and cannot be denied to them.
The State, in turn, defended the said exclusion on the grounds that 30% reservation is intended to be only for those doctors who have served in remote, rural and difficult areas and not on a universal basis for all the Medical Officers of the State.
The State also argued that the denial is just, and not violative of Article 14 or Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India as the benefit of reservation cannot be claimed as a matter of right by the Petitioner Doctors.
Now the issue before the Court was also for determining the difficult, remote and rural areas by framing a policy taking into consideration areas and Districts worst affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The High Court in its ultimate Judgement refused to interfere with the said relief of framing of a new policy including the areas affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, holding it to be a pure policy decision, but partly allowing the Writ Petition, while holding that the Petitioner Doctors are entitled for the benefit of entry through the 30% channel of reservation ear-marked by the State for the said purpose.
The concluding directions of the Division Bench of the High Court read as follows:-
"...petitioners fall in the category of 'in-service candidates' for the purpose of Postgraduate Medical Courses. The respondents have erred in not treating them in the said category in the impugned chart/table uploaded on the official website on 12/13.11.2021. Since, this deprivation of petitioners runs contrary to the order dated 19.8.2021 and provisions of admission rules, the impugned entries of the chart/table are set aside. The respondents are directed to treat the petitioners as in-service candidates for Postgraduate Degree Course and consider their claim for the same in accordance with law."
The State Government was defended by Deputy Advocate General, Mr. Piyush Dharmadhikari, with MCI being represented through Adv. Mr. Anoop Nair.
Case title - Dr. Vijendra Dhanware & Another v. The State of Madhya Pradesh and others
Case Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (MP) 4