Calcutta High Court rejects quota for service doctors
The high court on Tuesday struck down the state government’s decision to reserve 40 per cent seats in the MD and MS courses for doctors serving in government hospitals.
Justice Moushumi Bhattacharya, who delivered the ruling, described the state’s decision as “contrary to a ruling by the Supreme Court” and also cancelled the admission of those government doctors who had gained entry in the postgraduate courses under the quota.
The order means the health department will have to draw up a fresh merit list based on marks in the entrance examinations.
A Supreme Court bench had on April 25 last year dismissed the quota for government doctors in postgraduate medical courses. “Prescribing a separate source of entry for in-service degree candidates would directly result in a lowering of standards in medical education,” the five-judge Constitution Bench of the apex court had observed.
The bench, headed by then Chief Justice Dipak Misra, dismissed an application by the Tamil Nadu government seeking a direction allowing it to have a 50 per cent quota for “in-service doctors” in postgraduate medical education.
On Tuesday, Justice Bhattacharya also turned down a plea by Bengal’s “in-service doctors” that the state government be allowed to award extra marks to government doctors working in rural areas in the entrance examination for postgraduate medical courses.
The Mamata Banerjee government had been providing “grace marks” to its doctors serving in rural areas.
“At present there are 1,600-plus seats in postgraduate medical courses, 40 per cent of which have been reserved for government doctors,” an official in the state health department said.
The judge held that since the government had not issued any notification in this regard, the system could not be implemented during admission of government doctors in postgraduate medical courses.
Some government officials said the order meant that the state could reintroduce the benefits for its doctors after issuing a notification.
Tuesday’s court order followed a number of petitions by general category candidates seeking abolition of the quota for government doctors in postgraduate courses.
Advocate Firdous Shamim, appearing for the petitioners, submitted: “The Supreme Court has ruled that there should be no quota for government doctors in postgraduate medical courses. So, the state government’s decision to reserve 40 per cent seats in MD and MS courses is in violation of the apex court’s ruling. So, this court should strike down the decision with immediate effect.”
Lawyer Amitesh Banerjee, who appeared for the government and in-service doctors, said a “quota” would have encouraged some doctors to serve in rural areas.
According to state health department sources, there is shortage of at least 6,000 doctors in government-run health-care establishments. “The government had recently invited applications to appoint 10,000 doctors. Only around 4,000 doctors have applied and joined the service. Around 6,000 posts are lying vacant,” the official said.