251 Doctors under Bond Service move Gujarat HC challenging Govt's FIR order
Ahmedabad: Challenging the Government directions asking to register FIR against those doctors failing to join bond service, almost 251 postgraduate and super-speciality doctors practising in Gujarat have moved the Gujarat High Court.
As per a recent TOI report, in the petition filed before the High Court, the doctors have submitted that although they agreed to submit the bond amount to be released from the liabilities of the compulsory service, the Government refused to accept it. The High Court is likely to hear the petition on Monday.
These doctors had pursued their medical education from Government medical colleges and had given an undertaking at the time of admission that they would serve in rural areas after the completion of their studies. As per the rules, if they failed to do so, they would be required to surrender the bond amount instead.
Medical Dialogues had earlier reported that aiming to deal with the rapid surge of Covid-19 cases in the State, the Gujarat Health Department had issued an order directing over 1,242 MBBS graduates from various government and GMERS Trust-run medical colleges to report for Covid duties.
As per the order issued by the state health commissioner Jai Prakash Shivahare, the medicos had been asked to report to the respective district collectors or municipal commissioners for Covid duties. Failure to comply with the order would cost them actions under provisions of Epidemics Act.
After that, on May 4, the State Government had issued orders for calling 1,415 bonded expert doctors to join Covid-19 duty and for their appointment as Class-1 posts of experts from May 7 to deal with the shortage of medical professionals amidst the pandemic.
However, not getting a satisfactory response from the doctors, the commissioner of health had issued an order on June 20 to all district health officers and medical officers of the municipal corporations, asking them to direct concerned police stations to lodge FIRs against these doctors under provisions of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897.
The order had mentioned that 799 bonded doctors had failed to comply with the order and it also mentioned that 213 doctors worked at private hospitals.
As per the latest media report by the Times of India, when the doctors requested to submit their bonds to get rid of their responsibilities under the bond, the State government on June 21 decided that that the bonds submitted by the doctors would not be received. Further, the health authorities were directed by the Government to issue show-cause notices to the doctors.
In the petition before the High Court the counsel for the doctors advocates, Angesh and Amit Panchal contended that being unable to comply with the additional obligations mentioned under the bond, they are willing to submit the bond amount. However, the Government refused to accept the same.
Contending that both the State Government and the doctors are bound by the terms of the bond, the petitioners submitted that no clause in the bond mentioned that the state government would refuse to accept the bond amount. Calling the refusal as "unreasonable" the counsel for the doctors further submitted that by threatening criminal action, the attempt to enforce the contract for personal service is a violation of Article 23 of the Constitution.
Thus, the petitioners have urged the High Court to direct the authorities for quashing the order of registering FIR against the doctor for not honouring the bond. The plea has further sought to junk the order directing the doctors to join COVID duty and the show-cause notices issued to them. They have also demanded that the apex medical regulatory body should formulate a pan-India policy regarding compulsory service bonds, adds the TOI.
Further questioning why only the doctors who pursued medical education from Government medical colleges were asked to join duties by the Government, the doctors have filed two more petitions in this respect.