High Court strikes down rural-service benefit to NRHM doctor

The High Court on Wednesday accepted government’s plea against providing benefit of weightage in PG admission to a doctor working on contractual basis under National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). The doctor had sought weightage for serving in inaccessible and difficult area under the NRHM.

While allowing an appeal by the government, a division bench of Justice Ali Muhammad Magrey and Justice Tashi Rabstan set aside its single bench judgment which had directed the government to accord consideration to the benefit of marks weightage to a contractual doctor under NRHM for serving in inaccessible difficult area.

In its Letters Patent Appeal, the J&K government and its concerned functionaries had called in question the single bench’s judgment.

The judgment came after the bench heard state’s Additional Advocate General, Shah Aamir, as also counsel for the doctor.

The court observed that “inaccessible and difficult area is categorised by the Director Health Services Kashmir for a period of two years in terms of SRO 48 of 2018 dated 30.01.2018 providing for entitlement to weightage for serving in the difficult areas as defined under notification SRO 201 of 2006 dated 15.06.2006 for admission to MD/MS/Post Graduate Diploma Courses for the academic session 2018-2019”.

“We are of the view that the learned Writ Court has erred in holding that SRO 201 of 2006 does not define difficult or remote areas. This SRO has to be read conjointly with the relevant provisions of the J&K CSRs mentioned therein which identify and define the difficult areas,” the bench said.

The court pointed out that “it is to be borne in mind that the word defined used in proviso to Regulation 9(4) of the MCI Regulations, apart from connoting the meaning of a word or a phrase, means to having a definite outline or specification; precisely marked or stated”.

“It is seen that SRO 201 of 2006 read with the provisions of J&K CSRs mentioned therein clearly specify, mark out and state limits of the difficult areas,” the bench said.

“The learned single judge has also erred in relying on the categorization of certain areas made by the Director Health Services Kashmir entitling the doctors posted in such areas to monetary incentives mentioned therein, for purposes of the benefit of the weightage envisaged and mandated by proviso to Regulation 9(4) of the MCI Regulations read with Clause 4-A of the Jammu and Kashmir Government Medical Colleges (Selection of Candidates for Post Graduation Degree and Diploma Courses) Procedure Order, 1995”.

The Court observed that R. A. Jan, senior counsel who appeared on behalf of the aggrieved doctor, wanted it to gather the legislative intention behind the proviso to Regulation 9(4) of the MCI Regulations and SRO 48 of 2018.

In response to the contention by advocate Jan that general rules must yield to the special rules on a subject, the court said, “We are of the view that such questions do not arise in the instant case; therefore, the citations referred are not attracted to the facts of the case”.

“Accordingly, we are of the considered opinion that the impugned judgment cannot withstand the test of law and it warrants interference by us in this appeal,” the bench ruled.