Compulsory Rural Service for Junior MBBS Doctors
In a recent judgment of the High Court of Karnataka, it was held that the compulsory service bonds calling upon the fresh doctors to undergo one year rural service appears to be reasonable. The Court dismissed the petition filed by a batch of fresh MBBS doctors questioning the notification issued by the Government of Karnataka mandating compulsory service by all candidates who have graduated from in 2021, who secured admissions through Government quota. The petitioners had contended that the Karnataka Compulsory Service Training by Candidates Completed Medical Courses Act, 2012 is void as it is repugnant to the National Medical Commission Act, 2019.
On behalf of the National Medical Council it was pointed out that the application and operation of the NMC Act is prospective. Section 16 of the Act which relates to students taking up National Exit Test for which there is a three year window provided under the Act and it is for the Central Government to notify it and the same is yet to be done. On behalf of the State it was contended that the bonds were executed under Rule 11 of the 2006 Rules which provided for execution of bonds by candidates selecting medical seats under Government quota in Government and Private Colleges.
The present petitioners who have completed the course have voluntarily executed the bond that they will provide service in rural areas of Karnataka and now they cannot turn around and challenge the same. It was also pointed out that in the case of Association of Medical Super Speciality Aspirants the Apex Court has upheld the execution of bonds by the candidates and this judgement has a direct bearing on the present case. The Supreme Court upheld the view that the field of bonds is not covered by the Central legislation and categorically held that the medical graduates who have entered into contract to serve the Government for a few years under reasonable terms cannot be described as one of restraint of trade.
As per the agreed terms, the State will provide subsidized medical education to MBBS students who secured admission on Government quota on condition that qualified doctors would serve the rural areas of the State for a specified period of time. This has to be taken as a composite bargain between the State and the students. The Court also held that the subject of compulsory service does not fall within the ambit of the NMC Act. Rural service will sensitise students to miserable health conditions in rural India and also put into practice the principles learned in the subject of ‘Community Medicine’ compulsorily taught in early years of MBBS.