Pat HC | State Health Department, Bihar directed to ensure that doctors’ vacancies in the rural/remote/difficult areas are filled up to the maximum extent possible

Patna High Court: In the instant case, the Division Bench of Sanjay Karol, C.J., and S. Kumar J., taking note of the callous attitude of the State Health Department in not granting incentive of weightage in marks in terms of its two Notifications dated 27-08-2013 and 17-06-2014, to be added in computing the merit on the basis of NEET test, to the doctors posted in the rural/remote/difficult areas, for the reason that “the merit would stand compromised and would adversely affect the in service doctors posted at urban areas”; the Court directed the concerned authorities to redraw the merit list strictly in accordance with law by granting benefit of Notification No.1037(2) dated 27-08-2013 and Notification No.695(2) dated 17-06-2014 after accounting for the certificates/proof of eligibility; and to grant incentives in terms of Regulation 9(IV) of Notification No.MCI-18(1)/2010-Mad/62052 dated 15-02-2012. The Court further directed the  Chief Secretary, Government of Bihar to ensure that vacancies in the rural/remote/difficult areas are filled up to the maximum extent possible, either by transfer or expediting the process of recruitment in the light of  COVID-19 pandemic.

As per the facts of the case, for admission in various PG medical Courses, a prospectus for the academic session 2018 was issued. It was found out that the merit list has not been prepared by granting incentive marks to in-service candidates in terms of Regulation 9(IV) (Proviso) of the aforementioned MCI Notification. The appellants contended that health care facilities in the remote and difficult areas of the State, are less desirable, for lack of posting of adequate doctors, and despite being aware of the prevalent scenario, the Department had chosen not to grant incentive of weightage in marks, to be added in computing the merit on the basis of NEET test to the doctors posted in remote/ rural areas, on the ground that it is not appropriate and justifiable to give any weightage to the in service doctors posted at rural/remote areas over and above to those posted at urban areas.

Perusing the facts of the case, the Bench questioned that whether a Welfare State can adopt such an approach where in the absence of any plea or material to indicate absence of doctors or higher percentage of vacancy of the posts in the urban areas. The Court observed that, “Under the Constitution all power must be exercised to serve public interest. If only benefits are accorded, the doctors would voluntary opt to serve the poor, the needy, the deprived and the marginalized ones living in the remotest corner of the State”. The Court further observed that the percentage of vacancies in rural areas of Bihar is extremely high and grossly disproportionate to that of posting of doctors in the urban areas. The Court thus directed the State Health Department to follow the principles laid down by the Supreme Court in State of U.P. v. Dr Dinesh Singh Chauhan, (2016) 9 SCC 749 to resolve the matter. [Ankit Abhishek v. Ravi Ranjan Kumar, 2020 SCC OnLine Pat 669 , decided on 28-05-2020]

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