Wednesday, March 22, 2023
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HC pulls up Bihar govt for ‘neglecting’ rural areas, orders filling up of doctor vacancies

The court was hearing petitions challenging the govt’s decision to not give incentive marks to doctors who had served in rural or difficult areas.

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New Delhi: Pulling up the Bihar government for “neglecting rural areas”, the Patna High Court Thursday directed the chief secretary to fill up doctor vacancies in rural areas and difficult terrains, either through transfers or recruitments, “to the maximum extent possible”.

The bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice S. Kumar said, “The Chief Secretary, Government of Bihar, shall, with the normalization of the current Pandemic COVID-19, ensure that vacancies in the rural/remote/difficult areas are filled up to the maximum extent possible, either by transfer or expediting the process of recruitment.”

In its judgment, the court pointed out that across the State, there are 8,768 sanctioned doctor posts lying vacant, out of which over 5,600 fall in rural areas. It said that “on account of concentration of doctors in urban areas, the rural areas are neglected”.

The court was hearing petitions challenging the government’s decision to not give incentive marks to doctors who had served in rural or difficult areas, for the purposes of determining their merit in the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET) PG examination for admissions into PG medical courses.

According to the PG Medical Education Regulations, 2000, in-service candidates seeking admission to PG medical courses are entitled to 10 per cent of their NEET score as extra marks for every year of service in remote or difficult terrain or rural areas, subject to a maximum of 30 per cent marks.

Directing that this incentive should be given, the court said that the state government has “breached its dharma of acting in public interest for the benefit of teaming millions living in the rural areas, but also not maintaining its neutrality, in the accomplishment of the constitutional goals and determination of rights inter se private parties”.

The court directed the authorities to redraw the merit list for 2020 admissions to PG courses accordingly.

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‘Can a welfare state adopt such a stand?’

Despite the high vacancies in rural areas, the government had refused to grant the incentive to doctors posted in rural areas, submitting that “merit would stand compromised and would adversely affect the in service doctors posted at urban areas”.

The court rapped the authorities for taking this “immoral and illegal” stand, observing that any incentive for serving in rural areas can only be in public interest.

“Can a Welfare State even adopt such a stand more so in the absence of any plea or material to indicate absence of doctors or higher percentage of vacancy of the posts in the urban areas?,” it asked.

“Under the Constitution all power must be exercised to sub-serve public interest, for public good and for a public cause. If only such benefits are accorded would the Doctors voluntarily opt to serve the poor, the needy, the deprived and the marginalised ones living in the remotest corner of the State,” the court added.

“Affirmative intent” of the government

The Bihar government had submitted in the court that they had identified the rural areas through a notification in 2013 in accordance with the MCI regulations. It, however, said that the grant of bonus marks on the basis of this notification was still being considered by the government.

The court, however, opined that this notification had to be used for conferring the benefit to the doctors.

It pointed out that the notification did not say that there would be a separate order conferring the benefits, and said that its language “implies the affirmative intent of the Government in conferring benefits”.

“The power to grant incentive is discretionary, but then having done so, the State cannot be allowed to turn around and contend to the contrary, notwithstanding as to whether such benefit was neither claimed nor conferred upon any individual,” it observed.

Also read: Captain of ship changed in middle of Covid war: Tejashwi slams Nitish on health secy transfer

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  1. s age relaxation given to reserved category candidates selected under general category? 2) Age relaxation and experience points for candidates working under Bihar government was also applicable for doctors working under central government institution’s like AIIMS,IGIMS and the benefit/points for the same was given to candidates? 3) Details of Economic weaker section(EWS) candidates and were they selected/allotted under general category? Because no column mentions EWS in results. 4) Details regarding points and relaxation given to selected candidates. 5) Details of candidates not selected and points allotted to them. 6) could you provide the waiting list of candidates not selected? 7)At this time of crisis(covid-19) , all the candidates must have got selected to fulfill the vacancies since posts remain vacant.
    ecialist doctor seats remain vacant.4500 medical officer seat vacant.half of pediatric doctors not-selected.government making hospitals but posts are vacant.then again doctors will be over burdened and will not be able to provide quality service.kindly,contact shall share further details.

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