Ahmedabad: The students in the Government Medical Colleges in state will now breathe a sigh of relief as the Gujarat High Court recently quashed the state Government Resolution (GR) which forces the students to furnish a bond of Rs 10 lakh as bank guarantee or solvency certificate for properties worth Rs 12 lakh as a surety to compulsorily serve for three years in rural areas after post-graduation.
The HC struck down the requirement of a mandatory three-year bond service. These drew their powers from the government resolutions that were issued in 2017 and 2018 that have now been quashed by the court
The decision came in regard to the petition drafted by PG medical students from the single judge bench of Justice Bela Trivedi, which held the government’s diktat as “unreasonable” and in contravention of the Constitution.
In their petition, the students pointed out the dilemma they face in rural areas on the educational front. The PG medicos submitted that they do not get to learn anything for three years in rural areas because the hospitals lack facilities to treat patients. The policy also creates another class of citizens because those who are rich pay money and spare themselves from compulsory service in rural areas, and only those who cannot afford are required to serve.
The state government defended the compulsory bond services by speaking that much expenditure was incurred on the training of doctors and since qualified MBBS doctors are not available in rural areas. It was further submitted that between 2013 and 2018, 3,717 students executed bonds, and it has recovered Rs 41.52 crore from students who did not want to serve in rural areas.
The Court went through the matter and heard both sides. TOI quotes Justice Bela Trivedi as stating, “The expenditure incurred by the state on medical education cannot be permitted to be recovered from a class of students who have got admission in PG courses on their own merits.”
The court further said that such bond agreement and the conditions mentioned therein are opposed to public policy and therefore void. The government is in dominating position and the students are not similarly situated. They have no choice but to give assent to bond agreement, though the conditions are too harsh, unreasonable and onerous. Making students sign such bonds is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. The HC also stressed on students’ right to education and held the practice illegal because students do not sign on their “free will”, TOI further quotes.
The High Court further criticized the government circular by which it “literally tried to cause fear in the minds of the students” when it said that their stipend would be stopped, exam hall tickets would be denied to them, if they did not furnish the bond in the circular issued in February.
“The government action compelling them to sign on the dotted lines of the bond agreement containing absolutely unreasonable and unconscionable conditions, smacks of arbitrary exercise of powers at the instance of the respondent authorities.”
“The state therefore is expected to find out enduring solution to the chronic problem by framing suitable scheme or policy governed by the constitutional guidelines,” the court stated