SC upholds compulsory service bonds for PG med students

The court dismissed a writ petition filed by Association of Medical Super Speciality Aspirants and Residents and others, challenging the validity of such bonds in super-speciality courses. DH File Photo

The Supreme Court has held that the state governments can exercise their power to execute a compulsory service bond upon the doctors taking admission to post-graduate and super-speciality courses in government medical colleges, which would neither violate any fundamental rights of the candidates, nor would be a restraint on their professional activity.

A bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and Hemant Gupta approved of such bonds imposed by several states, including Karnataka, upon candidates to do public service for a period of one to five years on successful completion of their courses or pay a penalty of Rs 10 to 50 lakh. The court said it was brought with “laudable objective” and was in “larger public interest.”

“The appellants, who are required to work for a short period on a decent stipend cannot complain that they are made to perform forced labour, especially after they have taken an informed decision to avail the benefits of admission in government medical colleges and received subsidised education. By no means, the service rendered by them in government hospitals would fall under the expression of forced labour,” the bench said.

The court dismissed a writ petition filed by Association of Medical Super Speciality Aspirants and Residents and others, challenging the validity of such bonds in super-speciality courses by the states of Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and West Bengal. Similar challenge was made to the bond executed in admission to PG courses at Armed Forces Medical College, Pune.

The court, however, asked the Union government and the Medical Council of India to frame a uniform policy on the compulsory service to be rendered by the doctors who are trained in government institutions, in view of rigid conditions imposed by certain states.

After examining the matter on various parameters, the bench rejected the contention that rights of the candidates guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution have been violated.

The right to life guaranteed by Article 21 means right to life with human dignity. Communitarian dignity has been recognised by this court. While balancing communitarian dignity vis-à-vis the dignity of private individuals, the scales must tilt in favour of communitarian dignity, it said.

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get the top news in your inbox
GET IT
Comments (+)