Compulsory government service: HC relief for medical students in Karnataka

In a relief to a section of postgraduate medical students, the High Court of Karnataka has said that the Karnataka Compulsory Service Training by Candidates Completed Medical Courses Act, 2012, is applicable only to students who joined postgraduate medical degree/diploma courses from the academic year 2018-19 onwards.

The compulsory public service is not applicable to those admitted to PG medical degree/diploma courses during the academic years 2016-17 and 2017-18 as they were not made aware of the implementation of the Act, which came into force in July 2017, and no bonds as per its provisions were executed by those students.

Plea from students

Justice R. Devdas passed the order on March 30 while allowing a batch of petitions filed by Sadhwini M.H. and 514 other students who had joined PG medical degree/diploma courses in 2016-17 and 2017-18. The petitioners, who were graduating from various institutions, had questioned the government’s July 23, 2020, notice to them to report to the Director of Medical Education for posting as per the provisions of the Act.

The court noted that the government had started providing details of the one-year compulsory government training service through the information bulletin of the Karnataka Examinations Authority (KEA) only from the academic year 2018-19.

The government had contended that the law came into force when it was notified in the official gazette and ignorance of the law was not an excuse for the students merely because the condition was not mentioned on the information bulletin through the KEA at the time of their admission. The High Court had, in 2019, upheld the constitutional validity of the Act.

Knowledge of the law

However, the court pointed out that students from across the country and overseas, who seek admission to medical institutions in Karnataka, may not have knowledge of the local laws, which is not the case when it comes to other provisions of law/regulations of the Medical Council of India and the University Grants Commission, which are common throughout the country.

“Publication on the information bulletin also satisfies the dictum that ‘the aggrieved must be apprised’, which is the constitutional creed flowing from the postulates of Article 14 of the Constitution of India. The publication of information along with the prescribed form is more of a practical requirement than a legal compulsion,” the court held.

The court found that the government started providing details of the new Act on the KEA’s information bulletin as students had to make their choice. The law stipulates compulsory service of one year in government primary health centres or hospitals in rural areas, in government hospitals in urban areas, and government district hospitals after the completion of MBBS, PG courses, and super-speciality courses, respectively.

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Printable version | May 18, 2021 5:59:08 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/compulsory-government-service-hc-relief-for-medical-students-in-karnataka/article34232125.ece

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