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Government hospitals facing acute dearth of doctors

The Calcutta High Court recently bemoaned the “abysmally low” patient – doctor ratio and the paucity of doctors in government hospitals [State of West Bengal vs Madhab Sarkar].

A division bench of Justices Harish Tandon and Prasenjit Biswas said that the health sector plays a pivotal role in the development of the society

“The instant case is not falling under the service in the Administrative Department of the government. The health sector being a most important sector in the administration of the system for not only rendition of the services to the society but to the humanity as well. The health of the citizenry plays a very pivotal role in the development of the society and the country. The people – doctor ratio in the country is abysmally low and there is a dearth and paucity of the Doctors at the government hospitals where the poorest of the poor got benefit of the treatment,” the bench observed in the order passed on February 6.

The bench was hearing a plea filed by the State of West Bengal which decision of the West Bengal Administrative Tribunal (WBAT) in a case relating to voluntary retirement application filed by a doctor, who had served in State-run hospitals for over 22 years.

The Additional Chief Secretary, Health and Family Welfare had refused to accept the voluntary retirement application. The doctor had then moved West Bengal Administrative Tribunal (WBAT) which had quashed the order of the Additional Chief Secretary.

This led to the appeal before the High Court by the State.

The State stated that the resignation cannot be accepted in the larger public interest.

However, the doctor had relied upon the provisions of the West Bengal Service Rules (WBSR), which allow a government servant to apply for voluntary retirement after serving for 20 years.

Having noted the facts of the case, the bench opined that the Service Rules cannot be completely whittled down nor rendered otiose but is an integral part of the statutory provision.

“The government may decline to grant voluntary retirement on public interest and once such decision is taken unless it appears that the provision is so stringent that it cannot be brindled by any incorporation, the fullest effect to such provision is required to be given,” the bench held.

With these observations, the bench ordered the doctor to resume service within a fortnight.

Advocates Md TM Siddiqui and Avisek Prasad appeared for the Petitioners.

Advocates Asim Hati and Nandini Sharma represented the State. Bar and Bench

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