Calcutta, Oct. 18: Calcutta High Court today struck down the state government’s demarcation of remote areas for an incentive system for admission of junior doctors in post-graduate courses, calling it faulty.
The state government said that as a result of the order, no incentives would be awarded to doctors for the 2012-13 academic year.
“Although the court has said that the government can come up with a fresh demarcation, it will take some time. As admissions are getting delayed, the health department has decided to conduct the (PG) admissions for 2012-13 purely on the basis of merit,” said health department spokesperson Asit Biswas.
Biswas said counselling of students at West Bengal University of Health Sciences, to which all medical colleges in the state are affiliated, would start in a day or two.
The admission process was scheduled to be held in July but could not be done because of the high court case.
Postgraduate trainee Buddhadeb Bhattacharya and 71 other doctors had moved a writ petition in November challenging the validity of the state government’s notification demarcating remote areas.
The division bench of Justices S.K. Mukherjee and Harish Tandon today set aside the order of a trial bench of the same court that had in January upheld the notification.
“The notification that demarcates remote areas is faulty because it has not included several real difficult areas in it. So this court is setting aside the said notification,” today’s order said.
“The state has the liberty to issue a fresh notification by revising the demarcation of areas,” the order added.
In May, the high court had termed the notification “unconstitutional, arbitrary and irrational” and put an interim stay on it.
According to Medical Council of India (MCI) rules, junior doctors serving in backward areas after their MBBS are entitled to a quota (for diploma aspirants) and a grace of 10 per cent (for postgraduate degree courses) in the entrance tests.
The list prepared by the Bengal government on November 23, 2011, classified 12 of the 19 districts in the state as backward, following which all health-care institutes in the dozen districts were termed “remote and difficult”.
So hospitals even in developed areas of South 24-Parganas, such as MR Bangur Hospital in Tollygunge and Baghajatin State General Hospital, were deemed “remote and difficult” though both places are parts of south Calcutta.
However, a block primary health centre in Sandeshkhali, in the riverine Sunderbans with little road connectivity, is not remote because the state does not consider North 24-Parganas backward.
Sources in the government said the state could have followed the institute-specific policy as in Maharashtra rather than an area-specific scheme.