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Court snub on medical seats
- Move to fill extra post-graduate vacancies suffers suit setback

Even before the controversy over 200 medical seats at the under-graduate level is sorted out with the Medical Council of India (MCI), the government is mired in another scandal. This time for trying to fill up 40 extra post-graduate seats not from the common pool of applicants, but from teachers serving in government-run hospitals.

The decision has invited criticism from the medical fraternity, with a West Bengal Health Services doctor moving court after the government rejected her application for post-graduate studies. The high court on Tuesday ruled in favour of the doctor, stating that the government’s admission procedure was wrong, and the filling up of the post-graduate classes with only basic teachers was not acceptable.

The pro-left Association of Health Services Doctors (AHSD) was the first to lodge a protest with the government, demanding a “fair selection” by way of an entrance examination. This was joined by the Indian Medical Association, which threatened a massive agitation on this issue.

Days before the Supreme Court set a September 30 deadline for admission to medical seats this year, the government informed all principals of medical colleges in Calcutta and the districts that the MCI had accepted its application for 40 more medical seats at the post-graduate level, in addition to the existing 750-odd seats.

In a subsequent notification a few days ago, the government directed the principals to ask all non-post-graduate basic teachers, mostly resident medical officers, employed under the West Bengal Medical Education Service who do not have a post-graduate degree, to apply for the seats.

Hundreds of MBBS doctors, keen on a post-graduate degree, were in the dark about the development. When the news broke a few days ago, the AHSD wrote to health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra, asking him to drop the idea of filling up the medical seats with only doctors from the medical education services.

However, with an anaesthetist moving court, the fate of the 40 seats hangs in the balance. “I have no idea when the seats will be filled,” confessed Medical College and Hospital principal Jayshree Mitra on Tuesday.

“There are problems that need to be sorted out. We still have time to fill up the vacant seats and a decision on how to do it has not yet been taken,” said director of medical education C.R. Maity.

After a series of inspections, the MCI had decided to okay the 40 extra medical seats at the post-graduate level from this year.

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