Covid-19 Situation Improving, Consider Serving Doctor’s Application of Study Leave: SC
Honourable Supreme Court in the matter of Dr. Rohit Kumar vs. Secretary Office of Lt. Governor of Delhi- CA No. 2739/2021 directed the Government of NCT of Delhi to re-consider the application of the appellant seeking study leave for pursuing MD course in Paediatrics, and take a favourable decision and in light of the declining COVID-19 cases in NCT of Delhi.
The Division Bench of Justices Indira Banarjee and V. Ramasubramanian held:
“The Appellant, who could not join the post graduate course, due to the denial of Study Leave by the Government pursuant to a legitimate policy decision and in response to the call of duty, cannot now be denied relief on the hyper technical ground that the Respondent Nos. 1 and 2 had not breached any rules or regulations. It would be a travesty of justice to deny relief to the Appellant, when the Appellant had to make a personal sacrifice in the larger public interest, to serve the cause of humanity.”
The appellant, a doctor, under the Government of NCT of Delhi had duly completed five years of regular service and was eligible under the Guidelines of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India to avail Study Leave for pursuing a post-graduate course he had successfully cleared through the INICET-2020 and was allotted a seat in the MD course in Paediatrics at PGI, Chandigarh. However, the appellant was denied admission as his application for Study Leave was rejected by the Government Authorities, citing the policy decision taken by the Government of NCT of Delhi in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. Aggrieved, the petitioner approached the High Court of Delhi which also denied relief to the petitioner. Challenging the orders, an appeal was filed in the Supreme Court.
The petitioner submitted that he had been arbitrarily denied study leave and also discriminately as some of his colleagues were granted such leave. The respondent contested that the colleagues of the appellant were granted the study leave prior to the policy decision and therefore could not be claimed as a matter of right and it was open to the government to refuse any application if the service of the concerned doctor was required in the public interest.
The Court, upon hearing both the parties, opined:
“The policy decision taken by the GNCT of Delhi not to grant further Study Leave to doctors working in hospitals under the Government of NCT of Delhi in apprehension of rise in COVID cases, is obviously a temporary one and the policy has necessarily to be reviewed from time to time and relaxed and/or modified once there is decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases in the NCT of Delhi.”
The Court observed the pandemic situation of Covid-19 had visibly improved and the interest of the appellant must be protected while saying:
“Thankfully, the COVID-19 situation in Delhi is now under control. As on 14th July, 2021, that is, yesterday, there were total number of 688 active COVID-19 cases, of whom about 250 were in home isolation, as per news reports based on bulletins issued by the Health Department of the Government. The number of new cases per day has dropped to less than 100. It is reported that in most hospitals COVID-19 beds are now lying vacant. The application of the Appellant for Study Leave should, therefore, be reconsidered.”
Concluding, the Court directed the PGI, Chandigarh to accommodate the appellant to the next academic year (2021) to the course he was selected in 2020. Court also directed the GNCT of Delhi to re-consider the Application of Study Leave in the favour of the appellant. It also clarified that these directions are being passed in exercise of the power of this Court under Article 142 of the Constitution of India, in the facts and circumstances of this case, and this order will not be treated as a precedent.
Kumar Sonal | Research Intern | EduLegaL
Swapna Iyer | Legal Editor | EduLegaL