Denial of study leave: Delhi Doctor seeking MD Pediatrics admission at PGI moves Supreme Court
New Delhi: Challenging the dismissal of his writ petition by the Delhi High Court, a Medical officer working in the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital has now approached the Supreme Court of India seeking a study leave from Lieutenant-Governor Delhi for joining the MD Paediatrics course in Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Chandigarh (PGI).
A divisional bench of Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Krishna Murari has directed to list the matter after the ensuing summer vacation.
Medical dialogues had earlier reported the case when the Delhi High Court refused the petitioner's challenge against the Delhi government's decision of not granting study leave to a doctor for pursuing MD paediatrics at PGI Chandigarh.
Calling the petition infructuous, the high court had said that it cannot assume the role of an appellate authority against a decision taken at the highest level of the government.
Earlier, the petitioner submitted before the High Court that he satisfied the criteria laid down for grant of study leave in the office memorandum dated November 02, 2012. The Counsel for the petitioner submitted that he was granted permission to apply for and appear as sponsored candidate in the entrance examination INI CET 2020-21 for admission to post-graduate medical courses in Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Chandigarh. He secured a rank of 15270 from amongst 80000 candidates, who appeared.
The petitioner, after offline counseling for MD/MS course at PGI, was allotted a seat in MD (Pediatrics) course. The DDU hospital where the petitioner is working even issued the required certificate and NOC to the petitioner. The certificate clearly states that the hospital did not need a substitute for the petitioner, contended the petitioner.
However, after completing due formalities, when the petitioner submitted his study leave as per the Rules, on December 31, 2020, the respondents (Lt Governor of Delhi) deliberately delayed in granting the same to the petitioner, the counsel contended.
In the meantime, the PGI extended the last date for accepting the seat allotment to the petitioner till January 18, 2021, with a condition that in case, the petitioner fails to get the study leave by then from the concerned authority, in that case, it shall cancel the seat and allot the same to some other candidate.
It was only on his visit to the secretariat on January 08, 2021 that he came to know that his application has not been forwarded. He was orally informed that he has not been granted study leave on account of COVID-19, the counsel submitted.
The submission of the petitioner was contended by the govt. counsel citing COVID 19 pandemic and the exigencies of service.
The govt counsel stated that according to Chapter VI, Rule 50 of Central Civil Services (Leave) Rules, 1972, the government servant is not entitled to get a study leave as a matter of right. As per the said Rule, the study leave may be granted to a Government servant with due regard to exigencies of public service. Even though a Medical officer may be granted study leave for prosecuting a course of post-graduate study in Medical Science but, in the exigencies of services the Competent Authority may deny the same.
However, the petitioner had contended that study leave cannot be denied on covid grounds since the data released by the government itself reveals the situation of COVID-19 with regard to the management of pandemic and availability of beds in Delhi hospitals have improved considerably in the last couple of weeks and recently 326 Doctors have been freshly recruited as Medical Officers by the Govt. of NCT of Delhi.
Terming the reasoning given by the govt as untenable, the counsel further submitted that similarly placed Doctors were granted study leave at the time when the number of COVID cases were at the peak and the maximum number of beds were assigned for COVID patients in the hospital
The High Court in its observation had noted that the submission of the appellant, that the chance to pursue post-graduation at PGIMER is once in a lifetime opportunity for the appellant may be true, however, that does not transform into an enforceable right to seek issuance of mandamus to the respondents to accord study leaves to the Appellant.
The court further held that:
"it is clear that the Courts, in the exercise of its power of judicial review, cannot sit as an Appellate Authority over the decision taken by the administration/management. Suffice would it be to state, that the decision has been taken, giving due regard to the exigencies, which may arise in the course of administration. I am conscious of the fact that the petitioner being a meritorious candidate has a legitimate expectation to acquire a higher qualification and advance in his career but at the same time, as an employee working in the Govt. of NCT of Delhi; is bound by the Rules framed by the Government i.e. Rule 50 of the Leave Rules clearly stipulates that the grant of study leave is not a matter of right, as the same shall be granted to the government servant with due regard to the exigencies of public service."
Now, challenging the verdict of the HC, the medico has approached the Supreme Court seeking relief.
The apex court's division bench has heard the plea and has directed to list the matter after the ensuing summer vacation, reports India Legal LIve.