The Bombay High Court was hearing a plea against the arbitrary placement of doctors for a mandatory period of one year. The petitioners prayed for an interim relief to stay the operation of the order directing such service. However, the Court has refused the interim relief citing the service as ‘a call for national duty’.
The petitioners were candidates selected for admission to post-graduate courses in State medical colleges. They were eligible for concessional fee only after execution of separate bonds mandating one-year State service on completion of the course. The result for the final year examination of such courses was declared in August and September 2020.
On September 23, a list was published which directed the selected doctors to report at their respective hospitals/colleges. The selected doctors raised concerns as they were denied the right to fill their preferences. It also resulted in an allocation, unlike past academic year which were based on merit of the candidates.
Therefore, a writ petition was filed by three doctors in the representative capacity of 92 other doctors. They prayed to set aside the allotment list and direct the State to follow a fair procedure. The plea for interim relief, inter alia, requested a stay on the operation of the placement order.
The Court asserted that the nature of interim and principal relief demanded it to place reliance on a precedent. For the same, it has considered the Supreme Court decision in Deoraj v. State of Maharashtra. The judgement dealt with situations wherein granting of interim relief would tantamount to granting of relief itself. It is imperative to consider such situation as it would leave no room for interpretation during hearing of the merits of the case. Therefore, the Apex Court observed that the interim relief would be granted only on availability of a strong prima facie case. The Coram must be satisfied that withholding of the interim relief shall jeopardize the sense of justice.
Further, the Court has stated another reason for denial of the interim relief. It stated that the grant of interim relief would be more unjust to the respondents than refusal would do to the petitioners. In light of the world-wide pandemic, there has been increase in requirement of medical assistance, especially in rural areas. It remarked- “Doctors like the petitioners and the others should regard the call for service to be rendered as a call for joining ‘national duty’, so as to reach out to the distressed and the needy.”
The order was pronounced by the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta and Justice G S Kulkarni. Although it refused the interim relief to the doctors, it has acknowledged the matter to be of utmost importance. Therefore, observing that it required ‘expeditious consideration’, the State has been directed to file a response by October 19, 2020. Further, it has also directed the petitioners, doctors, to report on duty at its earliest.
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