Medicos’ violation of STGs | CAT seeks report on complaint data, follow-up action

Srinagar, Dec 9: The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) Srinagar directed the government to report how many complaints were received against medicos for violation of Standard Treatment Guidelines (STGs) and whether follow-up action was carried out in keeping with the government order issued in this regard.

A bench of M S Latif, Member (J), and Prasant Kumar, Member (A), directed the government to prepare data on complaints received, and their disposal as contained in the Government Order No 63-JK (HME) dated January 23, 2023, and the follow-up action.

   

The J&K government on January 23 this year constituted an inquiry committee to probe into the allegations regarding STGs.

The terms of reference of the government order are that as and when any complaint regarding a violation of STGs along with the report of J&K State Health Agency is received in the department, it should be placed before the Inquiry Committee through its Member Secretary for holding an in-depth inquiry.

Upon the receipt of the complaint, the inquiry committee would submit its inquiry report within 15 days to the Administrative Department.

The committee would take note of the government order dated August 12, 2022, where instructions have been issued to the doctors to refrain from private practice during official hours and duty hours in health institutions and other malpractices.

For the report, the tribunal directed its registry to serve a copy of the judgment to J&K’s Commissioner Secretary of Health and Medical Education Department, the Principal, Government Medical College (GMC), Srinagar, the Administrator, Associated Hospitals, the Director, Health Services, Kashmir, and the Mission Director, National Health Mission, Kashmir.

“The report should be submitted in the office of the Deputy Registrar of this court within two weeks from today (date of judgment),” the tribunal said.

The tribunal issued the directions while disposing of a petition related to the alleged violation of STGs by three medicos.

The tribunal directed the competent authority to conclude the inquiry against the three medicos within two weeks, observing that the inquiry ought to have been concluded within the time frame mentioned in the order dated January 23, 2023.

In their plea before the tribunal, the medicos were seeking to quash an order passed by the Health and Medical Education (H&ME) Department’s order with further direction to allow them to perform private practice following the law without any restraint or hindrance.

In response to the submission that the right to the profession is a fundamental right guaranteed under the constitution of India and any restriction has to be following the law, the tribunal said: “True it is that the respondents have the power to impose reasonable restrictions on this right, particularly, when the allegations levelled are regarding violation of STGs as issued by the NHA.”

The court observed: “A doctor cannot forget his duty and ethics towards the society, particularly when, in addition to being a professional, he is a public servant as well, who is governed by rules and regulations and a code of conduct, which he is supposed to adhere to in letter and spirit.”

In response to the further submission that the three medicos had a right of hearing to clear the allegations levelled against them in terms of principles and rules of natural justice, the court said: “It has been, repeatedly, observed and held by the courts that the principles of natural justice are not mantras but foundational percepts concerned with fairness of procedure and right of a person to respond to the allegations made.”

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