Bombay High Court: In a writ petition under Article 226 of Constitution of India by an MBBS doctor challenging rejection of permission to appear for National Eligibility cum Entrance Test for Postgraduate (‘NEET-PG 2023’) exam while he was entitled to the benefit of weightage of marks as an in-service candidate in NEET-PG 2023 after working in rural area for more than 3 years, the Division Bench of Mangesh S. Patil* and S.G. Chapalgaonkar, JJ. dismissed the same while holding that he was not entitled to the benefits claimed.
The petitioner in the instant matter was an MBBS graduate who was appointed as Medical Officer Class 1 on a temporary basis at the Rural Health Training Center on 1-06-2016. It was alleged that he satisfactorily completed a period of 5 years in the same post. Thereafter, his appointment was made permanent, and he was posted at the Primary Health Center from 1-07-2021, which he joined on 13-07-2021.
It was contended on behalf of the petitioner that after working in the rural area for more than 3 years, he was entitled to the benefit of weightage of marks as an in-service candidate in NEET-PG 2023. When he approached the authorities for grant of a No-objection Certificate (‘NOC’) seeking permission to appear for NEET PG examination, the same was refused. Hence, he challenged the order dated 23-01-2023 refusing the grant of NOC dated and sought declaration in his favour.
The petitioner claimed that a similarly situated candidate was found to be eligible by the authorities. It was claimed that the petitioner appeared for NEET-PG 2023 exam, secured 227 marks and was entitled to additional 30% marks as per Government Resolution dated 19-03-2019. The petitioner had rendered services initially on temporary basis for a period of 5 years, and then made permanent again in a rural area. It was submitted that the refusal to grant NOC to the petitioner was contrary to clauses 5.2 and 5.5 of resolution dated 19-03-2019 and the petitioner sought interference of the Court against alleged arbitrary exercise of power by the authorities.
The Court highlighted that the petitioner had not completed 3 years of service on a permanent post as quoted in the impugned order refusing grant of NOC for appearing in NEET-PG 2023 as an in-service candidate.
Court’s Analysis of Government Resolution
The Court perused the resolution dated 19-03-2019 titled as “Regulation for Selection of In-Service Medical Officers from the cadre of Maharashtra Medical and Health Services Group – A for Post Graduate Degree and Diploma Courses.” It pointed towards clause 4.1 which mandates prior permission of Deputy Director of Health Services of the Division to appear for such an examination, and that in the absence of such permission, candidates would not be relieved to complete the course. The clause 4.2 stated that the Medical Officer should have been selected in a regular selection process and must have completed minimum 3 years of service in the regular appointment excluding the service rendered under the bond period or as a temporary or contractual service. The clause 5 titled ‘regulations for grant of grace marks / additional marks for serving in rural and difficult areas’ whose clause 5.2 specifically laid down that while counting such years of service even the service rendered on temporary basis would be admissible for grant of grace marks.
The Court explained that the said clauses indicated that a candidate appearing for the examination without prior permission of the Deputy Director of Health Services so concerned, would not be relieved from posting. The Court inferred that “Unlike clause 5.2 which admits of even a temporary tenure to be counted for allotment of grace marks, clause 4.2 expressly lays down that for counting the minimum service of 3 years as the eligibility criterion, the service rendered on temporary basis will not be counted.”
The Court held that when the petitioner had not put in 3 years of service in regular cadre and had not obtained previous permission as required under clauses 4.1 and 4.2, the question of grace marks under clause 5.2 did not arise regardless of him having appeared for NEET PG 2023 examination. The Court clarified that the petitioner was not entitled to derive any benefit from the decision in Dr. Rupali Govindrao Shastri v. State of Maharashtra and therefore, dismissed the instant petition.
[Dr. Sandeep v. State of Maharashtra, 2023 SCC OnLine Bom 1348, decided on 5-07-2023]
Judgment by: Justice Mangesh S. Patil
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For Petitioner: Senior Advocate V.D. Sapkal, Advocate S.R. Sapkal;
For State: Advocate S.B. Pulkundwar.