The Madras High Court on Wednesday dismissed petitions by government medical officers seeking to forbear the Director of Medical Education (DME) from conducting any counselling for appointment to Associate Professors and Professors post in any discipline based on the draft seniority list (DSL.)

The petitioners also sought a direction to the DME to await the preparation of the final speciality seniority list for promotion to the posts for 2010-11 and to complete refitment of Professors in 1511 posts and Assistant Professors in 1,420 posts till date in accordance with a G.O. of October 23, 2009, before conducting the counselling.

After completing MBBS course, the petitioners R.Senthilnathan and others were appointed as Assistant Surgeons in Tamil Nadu Medical Service (TNMS) through the TNPSC.When appointed, the successful candidates were given a Civil Medical List (CML) number based on the marks in the TNPSC examination and other reservations, including communal reservation.

The petitioners contended that the authorities were bound to follow the seniority criteria as provided in the G.O. for promotion. Instead, the DME had issued the DSL of government doctors in each speciality for purpose of promotion, asking for particulars of all medical officers for preparing the final seniority list. In the list, it was found that seniority was based on CML number and not speciality-specific seniority. This caused prejudice to petitioners since government doctors who were less experienced in the respective specific speciality will steal a march over those like the petitioners who were seniors to them.

The Special Government Pleader, G.Sankaran, submitted that the authorities scrupulously followed the G.O. of October 2009 which provided that the DME unit's seniority list would be of two categories, general seniority for all doctors with MBBS and Diploma Degree and Speciality-wise seniority for those with Master's Degree and or Super Speciality Degree. Both the categories would be based on their seniority in the CML. In his common order, Justice T.Raja said the G.O. was very straight on the point. When clause numbers (iv) and (vii) were reconciled, the only probable conclusion was that for all purposes of promotion to the post of Associate Professor, inter-se seniority in the speciality would undoubtedly depend on CML seniority. Mr.Justice Raja said the petitioners' apprehension that the norms and guidelines provided in the G.O. may be reviewed no longer existed in the light of the Health Secretary's letter of January 31.