Regulate stipend for final year BDS interns: Plea filed in Karnataka High Court
Bengaluru: Getting no response from the Government regarding the prevailing stipend disparity between the interns at the Government and Private medical and dental institutes, a dental student at Karnataka has now moved to the High Court praying for relief.
Referring to the fact that despite working hard they do not get stipend, the petitioner student has requested the HC to direct the Dental Council of India and other concerned authorities to regulate the quantum of stipend for the final year BDS interns, regulate the working hours, and pay them stipend at par with the stipend paid to the interns at the Government dental institutes.
The petitioner student has asked for the following reliefs from the High Court-
While the MBBS interns in the Government medical colleges receive around Rs 30,000 as stipend, the private institutes pay an amount of Rs 500, Rs 2,000 or sometimes nothing at all. Similar conditions were in the Private dental colleges as well.
Previously, this issue had been raised by the National Students' Union of India (NSUI). Pointing out the huge disparity in pay to the MBBS and BDS interns at the Government institutes, NSUI had approached the Karnataka Government seeking its intervention regarding the matter. Referring to the service given by these doctors during the pandemic, NSUI had mentioned, "While these warriors are leading the battle from the front, the least we can do is to ensure that they get the basic remuneration that they deserve," added the letter.
Although NSUI had been raising the issue for more than one year in the past, and it approached the State Government as well, no solution has been offered in this regard yet.
Getting no response from the Government, now a BDS student belonging to a Dental College in Vijayapura has approached the High Court in this regard. Filing the plea, the outcome of which, the petitioner believes, "will save the interest of the Dental Student community at large", the student has pointed out how the BDS interns are being denied their right of stipend.
Referring to the BDS Course Regulations 2007 and the Curriculum of Dental Internship Programme 2011. the petitioner student pointed out that even though the Curriculum makes it mandatory for the Institution/University to pay a mandatory stipend to all the Undergraduate Dental Students who undergo the mandatory rotating internship, the quantam of the stipend has not been regulated by the Dental Council of India (DCI).
Claiming that the private Dental Universities are "misusing this unregulated sphere to exploit the students", the petitioner student further mentioned, "The Dental students are given 24hrs, 36hrs and 48hrs call shifts in one stretch in addition to the 8hrs of their regular daily duty. The Students are being used as machinery to make money by the Private Dental Universities."
Referring to disparity that exists between the stipend of BDS interns of the the government and private medical colleges, the plea mentioned, "Wherein the Students of Government Dental Colleges are being paid a substantial amount as stipend for their internship period, ranging between Rs.25,000 to Rs.35,000 per month, the students of Private Dental Colleges are not being paid a stipend, or are being paid a negligible stipend of about Rs.3,000 to Rs.5,000 per month. There is a great disparity among pay scales between the government dental college students and students belonging to Private Dental Colleges, where the pay is irregular and minuscule in comparison."
The petition also referred to the judgment of the Kerala High Court in the case of Arun Raj M.R. v. The Dental Council of India, the petitioner pointed out in his plea that the High Court of Kerala had also rejected the argument that 'there is no statute or regulation envisaging payment of stipend to students of Private Dental Colleges and hence the High Court cannot compel the college to pay stipend to the interns by way of a Writ of Mandamus'.
Further referring to the Kerala High Court order in the case of Kerala Christian College Managements Federation v. Medical Council of India, the plea argued that, "the Medical Council of India, now the National Medical Commission and Dental Council of India have competence to regulate and direct private medical/dental colleges to pay stipend to the medical/dental students on par with the stipend being paid to the Medical/Dental students of State Government Medical/Dental Institutions and Central Government Medical/Dental Institutions in the state wherein the institution is located."
Claiming that there shouldn't be any disparity in the payment of stipend between the interns of Government and Private institutes, the plea mentioned, "Clause 3 of The Curriculum of Dental Internship Programme, 2011 makes it mandatory to pay stipend to the Dental students. This provision for payment of stipend is fully in consonance with the aforementioned object and purpose. When Dental Students belonging to both Government Universities and Private Universities are to take similar training for the prescribed period, there cannot be any discrimination in payment of stipend. Providing different stipend to the Dental Students is discriminatory, arbitrary and is open to challenge on the ground of violation of Article 14 of the Constitution of India."
The petitioner also pointed out that he made representation before the Dental Council of India, Chief Secretary, Government of Karnataka and the Minister of Medical Education, Department of Health and Family Welfare, regarding the issue.
The grounds on which the petitioner student sought the reliefs mentioned above are as follows-
1. The disparity between Undergraduate interns of government dental colleges and private dental colleges is wholly arbitrary and in violation of Article.14 of the Constitution of India.
2. Due to the huge economic burden on the dental students of private institutes, their ability to survive depends on their personal financial capacity.
3. Depriving the private dental college students of fair stipends violates their right to practice any profession under Art.19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India
4. It is further submitted that the private dental colleges are exploiting this unregulated sphere and it has given rise to a situation which is similar to bonded labour. The entire scenario has a serious effect on the students right to life and human dignity guarded by Article. 21.
5. The Dental Council of India has the competence to regulate and direct private dental colleges to pay stipend to the dental students on par with the stipend being paid to the dental students of State Government dental Institutions and Central Government dental Institutions in the state wherein the institution is located.
6. The Petition, if allowed, would benefit the citizens, especially students, and correct the nonchalant attitude of the respondents.
NSUI had been raising this issue before the Government for a long time. Speaking to Medical Dialogues regarding the issue, Sanjay Raj, NSUI in-charge, Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (RGUHS) told Medical Dialogues, "We have been raising the issue for long. It is totally unfair that despite working for eight to nine hours a day they do not get paid even the minimum amount. They are not making any unreasonable demand but only asking for being paid the minimum amount, which is their fundamental right."
"We had approached the Government including the State Health Department regarding the issue earlier. However, there was no solution to the problem. Now that the matter has reached the High Court, we are hopeful for a positive outcome."
Barsha completed her Master's in English from the University of Burdwan, West Bengal in 2018. Having a knack for Journalism she joined Medical Dialogues back in 2020. She mainly covers news about medico legal cases, NMC/DCI updates, medical education issues including the latest updates about medical and dental colleges in India. She can be contacted at email@example.com.