Incentive for In-service Doctors is Policy Matter, Cannot Interfere: HC junks plea seeking extension of cut-off date
Jaipur: The Jaipur bench of Rajasthan High Court recently dismissed the plea by several doctors seeking an extension of the cut-off date for considering their experience of service in rural and difficult areas from 30.09.2021 to 31.10.2021. Dismissal came from the HC division bench comprising of Chief Justice Akil Kureshi and Justice Sameer Jain, after it observed that it granting...
Jaipur: The Jaipur bench of Rajasthan High Court recently dismissed the plea by several doctors seeking an extension of the cut-off date for considering their experience of service in rural and difficult areas from 30.09.2021 to 31.10.2021.
Dismissal came from the HC division bench comprising of Chief Justice Akil Kureshi and Justice Sameer Jain, after it observed that it granting of incentive marks to in-service candidates was a matter of policy and it mainly depended on the discretionary exercise of powers of the State Government.
"To begin with grant of incentive itself is a policy matter and based on the discretion of State authorities. Any extension for considering the experience is also part of such discretionary exercise of the powers. Unless it is shown that such discretion is exercised arbitrarily or malafidely this Court would not interfere in such policy matters," the bench noted as it dismissed the petitions.
The case concerned the petitioner doctors who are serving in the Rajasthan State Services and have been posted in remote, difficult or rural areas. On the other hand, even though the State policy recognizes graded incentive marks in PG medical admission for such doctors, for the current process of admissions such experience has to be reckoned as gained by them up to 30.09.2021.
Disputing this cut-off date the doctors contended that the cut-off date should be shifted to 31.10.2021 and therefore they filed the plea before the High Court. After the single judge bench dismissed their pleas, the petitioners approached the division bench.
The counsel for the petitioner doctors submitted that in the present year due to variety of reasons the process of admission in PG medical courses has been delayed. Taking cognizance of such delays the State Government itself has shifted the date for considering experience from originally declared which was 30.04.2021 to 30.09.2021.
It was further argued by the petitioner's counsel that ideally the first date of counselling should be the date upto which the experience should be seen which was the past practice as well. However, ignoring such facts the State Government refused to extend the last date of 30.09.2021 for considering the experience of in-service doctors, the counsel for the doctors submitted.
On the other hand, the Government advocate opposed the appeals and clarified that the matter was a policy decision of the State. The Government after due consideration decided to extend the last date for considering the experience upto 30.09.2021. Thereafter there was no further reason to extend the time, submitted the counsel appearing for the Government.
Meanwhile, the counsel appearing for the National Medical Commission (NMC) submitted that the additional marks being granted to in-service doctors posted in remote areas is by way of incentives. The petitioners have no vested right to claim such incentive dehors the Government policy.
After listening to the contentions, the High Court bench noted that as per the policy by the Rajasthan Government incentive marks are granted to in-service doctors posted in difficult areas under which for every completed year of service 10% marks would be added in the tally of candidate scored in the NEET examination with the ceiling of 30% marks weightage which may be made available.
However, after it was challenged before the Supreme court and the top court had held that the parameters applied for identifying such remote and difficult areas were not legally valid, the matter was reconsidered by the State Government and the State had revived its policy and issued fresh regulations which currently prevail.
After considering the entire matter, going through the documents and taking note of the arguments of the parties, the High Court bench observed that "we find that the policy to grant incentive marks to in-house doctors serving in difficult, remote or rural areas has been framed by the State Government by virtue of which for every completed year of service in such year 10% weightage would be granted for the purpose of PG medical course. This would be over and above the marks scored by the candidate in NEET examination."
The bench also took note of the fact that ordinarily such experience would be considered upto 30th April of the relevant year, and initially it was same for the 2021-2022 academic year as well. However initially on account of spread of corona virus the conducting of NEET examination itself had to be postponed, which was finally held on 11.09.2021. Still, the counselling process got delayed due to the pending legal complexities before the Supreme Court and taking cognizance of such developments, the Rajasthan Government extended the time limit from 30.04.2021 to 30.09.2021.
"In our view the same is principally a matter of policy and depends on the discretionary exercise of powers of the State Government. To begin with grant of incentive itself is a policy matter and based on the discretion of State authorities. Any extension for considering the experience is also part of such discretionary exercise of the powers. Unless it is shown that such discretion is exercised arbitrarily or malafidely this Court would not interfere in such policy matters," the bench noted at this outset.
Further referring to the contention by NMC that grant of incentive is a State policy and the candidates do not have any right to claim it, that too dehors the state policy, the bench noted, "Such cut off date cannot be kept fluctuating. The date of counselling would depend on several factors. The suggestion that experience gained by the candidate right till the first date of counseling is therefore not acceptable."
Dismissing the appeals, the bench further noted, "There is yet another angle to this issue. The perusal of the State policy would show that the incentive is granted to ensure that sufficient numbers of doctors are available to serve in remote, difficult and rural areas. On account of difficult living conditions in such areas these doctors would also suffer a degree of handicap in their preparations of PG medical entrance examinations. To offset such handicap incentive is being offered. Once examination is over, the candidate cannot complain of being disadvantaged in making the preparations as compared to the other candidates. The cut off date of 30.09.2021 prescribed by the State Government therefore requires no interference."
To read the court order, click on the link below.
Barsha completed her MA 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.