Held hostage by state: Doctor

 Calcutta high court. File Picture

Calcutta: The state government is refusing to release from its service a doctor who has paid the stipulated Rs 20 lakh to be freed from the bond requiring him to work in Bengal for five years after completing his MD.

Rahul Bansal from Madhya Pradesh, who did his MD from SSKM Hospital, has moved the high court stating the government is refusing to hand him his papers even after he had paid the bond money.

A division bench of the high court is likely to decide on Thursday whether the government can do that.

The state has cited the severe crunch of specialist doctors in Bengal to justify its decision.

Justice Dipankar Dutta, the senior judge on the division bench which is hearing the matter, said: "Under what law has the state taken the decision (to hold on to the certificates)? Please submit before the court tomorrow (on Thursday) the papers related to the postgraduation course of the doctor, along with the notifications issued in this regard till date. The court will dispose of the matter tomorrow."

The government has not been able to appoint Bansal yet to any hospital.

Bansal had to sign a bond before joining the two-year MD course in 2015. Along with the bond, he had to submit the certificates of all previous exams.

The bond, which every doctor has to sign before joining a postgraduate course (MD or MS), states that the candidates will get their certificates from the West Bengal Health University after either completing five years of service in Bengal or paying Rs 20 lakh.

After completing his course last year, Bansal contacted the university and said he would like to get back his certificates by paying the bond money.

Kallol Bose, the lawyer appearing for Bansal, submitted before the division bench on Wednesday that he intended to study further at a university in Maharashtra. "But the health university declined to accept the money," Bose said.

Bansal had on May 21 moved a writ petition before Justice Shivkant Prasad of the high court, pleading for an order to the university to accept the money.

Justice Prasad granted the prayer.

Armed with the court order, Bansal went to the university with a cheque for Rs 20 lakh but the authorities declined to accept it. "So, my client had to pay the bond amount in cash," Bose submitted.

The authorities, even after accepting the money, refused to hand Bansal his papers. Instead, they moved the division bench of Justice Dipankar Dutta and Justice Asha Arora challenging Justice Prasad's order.

The appeal came up for hearing on Wednesday.

Tapan Mukherjee, the lawyer representing the government, submitted: "At present, the Bengal government has a shortage of more than 4,000 doctors. Many of the superspeciality hospitals and health-care units do not have enough qualified doctors. The situation has prompted the government to decide against allowing doctors to leave the state after completing their MD and MS coursed from here."

Mukherjee said the government had to spend "a huge amount" on training a postgraduate doctor.

"How much does the government have to spend?" asked Justice Dutta.

"Rs 9.6 lakh in two years," Mukherjee replied.

Justice Dutta then asked: "Why is the government then holding on to the certificates even after getting Rs 20 lakh?"

Mukherjee failed to give any answer.


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