Regulation 9(2) of the Post Graduate Medical Education Regulations, 2000 giving incentive to the in-service candidates who had worked in remote and difficult areas, constitutional

Supreme Court: In a Writ Petition filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India praying for a declaration that the third Proviso to Regulation 9(2) of the Post Graduate Medical Education Regulations, 2000, is unconstitutional and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution, the 3-judge bench of T.S. Thakur, CJI and A.M. Khanwilkar and Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, JJ held that the procedure evolved in Regulation 9 in general and the proviso to Clause (IV) in particular is just, proper and reasonable and also fulfill the test of Article 14 of the Constitution, being in larger public interest.

The writ petitioners, who claimed to be members of the Provincial Medical Health Services in the State of Uttar Pradesh, had contended that they should also be considered for admission in Post Graduate Degree Courses against 30% quota for in-service candidates. However, the 30% quota was reserved only for the in-service candidates who had worked in remote and difficult areas; and not for the in-service Medical Officers generally. It was the case of the petitioners that there is neither any committee set up nor guidelines made as to which area can be notified as remote and difficult area and that the power vested in the State is an un-canalized power and disregards the settled position that for consideration after the graduate level, merit should be the sole criteria.

Considering the fact that not even one instance has been brought forward to show that some areas which are not remote or difficult areas has been so notified, the Court rejected the said contention and held that the mere hypothesis that the State Government may take an improper decision whilst notifying the area as remote and difficult, cannot be the basis to hold that Regulation 9 and in particular proviso to Clause IV is unreasonable.

It was noticed that the State Governments across the country are not in a position to provide health care facilities in remote and difficult areas in the State for want of Doctors. The provision in the form of granting weightage of marks, therefore, was to give incentive to the in-service candidates and to attract more graduates to join as Medical Officers in the State Health Care Sector as in order to determine the academic merit of candidates, merely securing high marks in the NEET is not enough. The academic merit of the candidate must also reckon the services rendered for the common or public good. It was further stated that having served in rural and difficult areas of the State for one year or above, the incumbent having sacrificed his career by rendering services for providing health care facilities in rural areas, deserve incentive marks to be reckoned for determining merit. [State of U.P. v. Dr. Dinesh Singh Chauhan, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 820, decided on 16.08.2016]

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