Libertatem Magazine

A Doctor Can’t Shirk His Duty: Himachal Pradesh High Court

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Calling this case a “rather unfortunate case”, a bench comprising of Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Justice Chander Bhusan Barowalia while dismissing a plea of a doctor challenging his deputation to a Covid Make Shift Hospital observed that “It is imperative that the front line workers are made to work on a rotation basis or else the health system is likely to collapse with the sudden and drastic surge in Covid-19 cases”. 


Facts of the case

In this case the Petitioner, Dr. Vishal Koundal is a doctor, had been ordered to be posted at a Covid Make Shift Hospital, on a deputation basis. But instead of joining and protecting precious human lives, the Petitioner had filed the instant writ petition assailing the order of deputation. Petitioner belonged to District Kangra and since 2015 resided in the said District. Initially, the Petitioner had completed his Post Graduation from RPGMC, Tanda, for the academic session 2015-2018. Subsequently, in the year 2018, the Petitioner was appointed as a Medical Officer (Anesthesia) at Civil Hospital, Dehra. Further, the Petitioner had met with an accident in the year 2018 in which he suffered Lumber, Spine, and Sacrum injuries. Later via a vide notification dated 11.11.2020, Petitioner was ordered to be transferred on a deputation basis to Jawahar Lal Nehru Medical College and Hospital, Chamba. However, according to the Petitioner, this deputation order was canceled based on a representation made by him. The Petitioner had earlier said that because of the injuries he suffered in the accident in the year 2018, he was unable to serve at the place of deputation.

Furthermore, via a vide order dated 27.04.2021, the Petitioner had again been ordered to be transferred on a deputation basis to the MakeShift Hospital, Palakwah, District Una, H.P. Responding to this, the Petitioner filed the present petition assailing the order of deputation.


Arguments before the court

Mr. Anubhav Chopra on behalf of the Petitioner assailed the order of deputation. This assailment was made based on the previous representation made by the Petitioner to the notification of 11.11.2020, which stated that the Petitioner in the year 2018 had met with an accident and had remained hospitalized for five months. Further, in this accident, the Petitioner suffered Lumber, Spine, and Sacrum injuries. And therefore, the Petitioner’s previous deputation order dated 11.11.2020 was canceled as 2018’s accidental injuries disabled him to serve at the previous place of deputation. Accordingly, the present deputation ordered dated 27.04.2021 was also to be canceled because the same injuries suffered by him in 2018’s accident incapacitated him to serve the deputation order dated 27.04.2021. 


Court’s observation 

The Court, in this case, observed that there was no merit in such contentions as there were no contemporaneous records that in any manner indicated the Petitioner as incapacitated to serve at the transferred station. The Court further observed that if the Petitioner was fit enough to render his services at Civil Hospital, Dehra, which incidentally, was his Home Tehsil, there was no reason why he couldn’t serve at the Covid Make Shift Hospital, Palakwah, District Una. Moreover, an impression was created that the Petitioner was only trying to escape from his duties and responsibilities that were assigned to him. Moreover, as the Petitioner claimed himself to be a front-line worker against the fight of Covid-19, surely he must have got himself vaccinated out of turn. And now he was only shirking from his responsibility. 

Furthermore, the Court stated the Petitioner had failed to realize that the health workers in overcrowded hospitals, the policemen, and other front-line workers are already beset with an overwhelming load of Covid-19 patients which was likely to worsen in the future. Nevertheless, these front-line workers are exhausted from almost a year of restless fighting against the pandemic. The State currently is fighting the grimmest battle against Covid-19 which is nothing short of a disaster culminating in mass deaths and, therefore, it is imperative that the front-line workers are made to work on a rotation basis or else the health system is likely to collapse with the sudden and drastic surge in Covid-19 cases. 

Moreover, a government servant is a holder of status and that cannot be made depending on his will. Accordingly, once a person accepts the status as per rules, he no longer remains a simple individual only, instead, he forms an integral part of Governance and at times even in the face of the Government. Hence, in the garb of self-unwillingness to serve, the Petitioner cannot be permitted to shirk from his duties and responsibilities. And this tendency was to be dealt with and curbed with an iron fist. 


Court’s decision

For the reasons stated above, Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Justice Chander Bhusan Barowaliano found no merit in this petition, and the same was accordingly dismissed in limine along with pending applications if any. 


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