The Delhi High Court has asked the AAP government to reconsider its decision not to grant study leave to two doctors to commence Diplomate of National Board (DNB) training on the ground that pandemic cases are expected to rise in the coming months.
Justice Jyoti Singh said when unconditional no objection certificates (NOCs) was given to the doctors in June during spike in COVID-19 cases to attend the counselling for the DNB seats, it was “strange” they were not being granted leave now on the ground that pandemic cases are expected to rise in November and December.
“The stand of the respondents (Delhi government and office of LG) that the petitioners (doctors) cannot be relieved on account of pandemic seems strange to the court taking into account the fact that when the NOCs were given in June 2020 the pandemic existed and there was a spike in the number of cases. “Surely the respondents contemplated the situation to continue for a while and yet assured the petitioners that they shall be relieved,” the court said.
The government had assured the doctors they would be relieved from office to join DNB training if they were selected for the same and no condition or caveat was attached, it said. The court also noted in its order that both doctors got high ranks in the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test PG 2020 and while one was allocated DNB Radiodiagnosis at Apollo Hospital, Bangalore, the other was allocated DNB General Medicine (Broad Speciality), St. Stephen’s Hospital, Delhi. “The petitioners were asked to submit the requisite fees of Rs 1,25,000 each for the course, which the petitioners did on August 27,” it further noted.
The government contended in the court that grant of study leave is not a matter of right and is subject to exigencies of service and secondly, that on account of the pandemic a conscious view has been taken by the competent authority that it would not be prudent to spare the doctors at this juncture. Referring to the stand taken, the court said it was “most unfortunate” as the two doctors appeared for the counselling only after receiving the NOC.
“Keeping in view the said facts and circumstances, the competent authority is directed to reconsider the matter,” the court said. It said that while revisiting the issue the competent authority would keep in mind that the NOCs were unconditional, they were issued in June when there was spike in COVID-19 cases and the two doctors have secured high ranks after putting in lot of labour and hard work to clear the exam and counselling.
The court also said that the doctors were only trying to improve their qualifications, experience and skill by undergoing the PG course. “It needs no emphasis that higher qualification and experience shall only inure to the advantage of the hospitals they are working in and ultimately benefit the government. Taking into account the above mentioned factors, it is directed that the decision shall be taken by the Competent Authority, positively, within a period of two weeks from today,” the court said in its order dated October 23. It said the decision taken shall be communicated to the two doctors and will also be placed before the court by the next date of hearing on November 11.