Compulsory Govt Service: Karnataka HC grants relief to 515 PG medicos
Bengaluru: In a recent judgment, the Karnataka High Court has given relief to the post-graduation medical students, who took admission in 2017-18 and 2016-17, from "Karnataka Compulsory Service Training by Candidates Completed Medical Courses Act, 2012". The court has observed that since the information on the Act was provided in the Information Bulletin 2018-19 only, the rules would be applicable for the same academic year and onwards.
The HC bench comprising of Justice R. Devdas, in the order dated 30.03.2021, mentioned, "The students of the academic years 2016-17 and 2017-18 were not made aware of the implementations of the provisions of the instant Act and Rules and no bonds have been executed by the petitioners of the academic years 2016-17 and 2017-18. Therefore, the provisions of the instant Act and Rules shall not be made applicable to the PG students/petitioners who were admitted to the course during the academic years 2016-17 and 2017-18."
Justice R. Devdas passed the order on March 30 while allowing a batch of petitions filed by 515 students who had joined PG medical degree/diploma courses in 2016-17 and 2017-18. The petitioners, who were graduating from various institutions, had questioned the government's July 23, 2020, notice to them to report to the Director of Medical Education for posting as per the provisions of the Act.
When the Karnataka Government in an order dated 23.07.2020 asked the students who would be graduating from various institutions in The state of Karnataka to report to the Director of Medical Education after the exams, for posting, a section of students approached the High Court questioning the Act itself. Among these, most of the students were those who joined the course during 2016-17 or 2017-18. They approached the court contending that the Act couldn't be imposed on them as the Information Bulletin for the years of their admission didn't provide any information regarding the issue and they didn't sign any bond regarding the matter as well.
The counsel for the petitioner contended that the amendment Act 35 of 2017 was brought into effect from 11.07.2017. Whereas, the Department of Medical Education, in association with the Karnataka Examinations Authority had issued the information bulletin for admission to Post Graduate Degree/ Diploma Medical and Dental Courses for the academic year 2017-18 much earlier to the said date. In fact, the process of admission, as directed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court, was completed by 31.05.2017.
Placing reliance on the Supreme Court judgment Parmender Kumar and Others vs. State of Haryana and others (2012) 1 SCC 177, the counsel for the petitioner students further contended "that if the students are not made known about the conditions and covenants for issuance of the degree certificates, the State authorities are precluded from imposing such conditions and denying the certificates on the ground of non-compliance."
Further, addressing the issue of students from other states and countries, the counsel for the petitioner students further submitted before the HC bench that these restrictions are required to be made known to the students who come from various parts of the country and foreign countries. If such conditions and restrictions are made known to the students beforehand, they will be in a position to decide as to whether they would be in a position to comply with the conditions.
The counsel for the petitioner students further contended that the Information Bulletin PGET-2015 and 2016 didn't provide any information that after completion of the Course they should undergo one year compulsory service in Government Hospital in the urban area. Also, the students didn't sign any bond either as contrary to the students for 2018-19 and 2019-2020 batch.
On the other hand, the counsel for the State contended that merely because the information is not provided in the Information Bulletin, that by itself will not preclude the Government from implementing the provisions of the enactment. The State further submitted that the State Government has enacted the law and the law has received the assent of the President of India, and thus the provisions shall be implemented.
Contending that the information provided to the students regarding compulsory service cannot be treated as mandatory requirement, the counsel for the State further submitted before the HC bench that such information is provided as a matter of precaution and non-providing of such information in the Information Bulletin cannot be a reason for non-implementation of the provisions of the statute.
After listening to the contentions of both the parties, the Court denied the submissions by the petitioners regarding the validity of the Act in question. However, upholding the validity of the Act and the Rules, the Court opined,
"The provisions of the Act and the Rules are prospective in nature and therefore, they do not apply to the students who had already been admitted to the respective Medical courses before 24.07.2015, the date on which the Karnataka Act No.26 of 2015 came into force."
The court took note of the facts that the process of admission to the PG courses of the academic year 2017-18 was completed on or before 31.05.2017, and the students for 2017-18 or the Courses prior to 2017-18 were not required to execute bonds undertaking compulsory service in terms of the Act, 2012.
The HC bench further noted that the Information Bulletins issued by the Karnataka Examinations Authority at the instance of the Government contain the information of the implementation of the provisions of Rules, 2006 from the date when the Rules came into force and the provisions of Act, 2012 from the year 2018-19 onwards. The Information Bulletin also contains the prescribed form (Bond) and the candidates are compelled to execute the Bonds.
Thus, the Court observed,
"Although it may not be mandatory to provide such information in the Information Bulletin, the Government will not be in a position to compel the candidates into compulsory service, if such Bonds are not taken from the candidates."
Finally, addressing the students from around the globe seeking admission in Karnataka, the Court mentioned that "Such students many not have the knowledge of the provisions of a local statute."
"The publication in the information bulletin also satisfies the dictum, "the aggrieved must be apprised" which is the constitutional creed flowing from the postulates of Article 14 of the Constitution of India. The publication of the information along with the prescribed form is more of a practical requirement than a legal compulsion," mentioned the Court.
Taking note of all these, the Court disposed of the petitions mentioning
"The provisions of the instant Act and Rules shall not be made applicable to the PG students/petitioners who were admitted to the course during the academic years 2016-17 and 2017-18. On the other hand, PG students/petitioners from the academic year 2018-19 onwards have been informed of the implementation of the Act and Rules, following which they have executed bonds undertaking to abide by solemn undertaking. Therefore, the provisions of the instant Act and Rules shall be made applicable to the PG students/petitioners who were admitted to the course during the academic year 2018-19 and onwards."
To view the original court order, click on the link below.