Shimla: Coming to the rescue of MS Surgeon, the Himachal Pradesh High Court recently directed the government to regularise here services. The concerned doctor, a general duty officer, was terminated from her services even after being granted with the NOC for the pursuance of her higher studies at PGIMER, Chandigarh.
The case was heard when the aggrieved doctor approached the Himachal Pradesh Administrative Tribunal in 2015, through her plea which got transferred to the High Court on the abolishment of the said tribunal in the year 2019.
The aggrieved doctor in her plea alleged that after completing her MBBS, she joined as a medical officer at Primary Health Center Khundian, under Rogi Kalyan Samiti in the year 2009, after which her services got regularized under the Himachal Pradesh Government in the year 2012.
The doctor, in order to appear in the examination conducted by PGIMER, Chandigarh, applied for the issuance of a No Objection Certificate which was granted to her by the block officer, Jwalamukhi in 2011. After being selected for the post-graduation in PGIMER, Chandigarh, the aggrieved applied for the grant of study leave/ extraordinary leave as per the norms. however, the health services department terminated her from the service instead of granting her study leave for allegedly joining a new assignment in the PGI MER, Chandigarh.
The aggrieved requested to revoke the termination of service and constantly sent reminders to reinstate her in the services and the last reminder was sent to the Additional Chief Secretary (Health) in the year 2015. In response to this, the Additional Chief Secretary (health) wrote a letter to the director of health services to examine the matter in accordance with the rules and regulations, to which the director of health services responded asking the authority to reconsider the case of the aggrieved doctor.
The director of health services sent the application to the Additional Chief Secretary (Health) along with the enclosed the NOC issued to the aggrieved by the block medical officer, Jwalamukhi stating that he was not competent to issue her a NOC, and as a consequence to, the aggrieved was denied the study leave. Being aggrieved and dissatisfied with the aforesaid action of termination of services, she approached the erstwhile Himachal Pradesh Administrative Tribunal, praying therein for the relief, as reproduced above, on the ground that once, Block Medical Officer had issued no objection certificate permitting her to participate in the examination of MS General Surgery at PGI MER Chandigarh, there was no occasion for the Department to deny Extra Ordinary Leave, enabling petitioner to complete her studies at PGI MER Chandigarh.
The director of health services stated that instead of granting the aggrieved no objection certificate himself, he should have forwarded the application to the competent authority i.e., the Secretary (Health) to the Government of Himachal Pradesh.
The petitioner in her plea to the director of health services also alleged that she intimated to them about her selection against the district area category but they remained silent till the time of her termination of services was notified. She also alleged through her plea that if they knew about the incompetency of the no objection certificate issued to her by the block medical officer, they did not inform or recall her to hear her out, instead waited till the time termination was issued.
Hearing the plea of the aggrieved the court held that it was true that she remained absent for a period of two months during the period of her duty before her termination from the services and that she was on a probation period of two years after her services regularized, but it was necessary for the department to issue a notice to the aggrieved and then terminate her from the service. it was not the duty of the aggrieved to look in the authority of competency for the issuance of no objection certificate to her, she approached the department to which she reported in proper accordance with the rules and regulations before appearing for the examination for PGI MER, Chandigarh.
The court also, stated that it was the duty of the block medical officer who issued her the no-objection certificate to refer her application to the higher competent authority.
“Interestingly, in the case at hand, petitioner remained absent from duties for approximately for two months, after being selected in PGI MER Chandigarh and during this period she had intimated the Department with regard to her selection and with a request to grant Extraordinary Leave but the Department, in a most cursory manner and without application of mind proceeded to terminate services of the petitioner on 23.3.2012, that too without initiation of disciplinary proceedings.”
The department responded to the plea of the aggrieved stating that there could be no disciplinary action taken before the termination of her services and she could not ask for a no objection certificate to pursue higher studies as she had not completed four years of services. To which the aggrieved filed the details of doctors who had not completed four years of services still were granted the no objection certificate along with the extraordinary leave to pursue higher studies on record.
The court noted down looking at the matter that the aggrieved was nowhere at fault, whether intimating the department about her appearance in the examination or the issuance of no objection certificate to her, and she was terminated without giving a chance to be recalled, hence the court set aside the order of termination her services and directed the department to reinstate her in seniority and continuity without any back wages.
“Interestingly, in the case at hand, petitioner, who at no point of time was at fault, repeatedly apprised the Department with regard to her having been granted No Objection Certificate by Block Medical Officer Jawalamukhi and her having joined at PGI MER Chandigarh but yet the Department instead of considering her request for grant of Extraordinary Leave/study leave, proceeded to pass termination order, without opportunity of hearing to her, which action of the respondents cannot be said to be justifiable.”
” In view of above, this court finds merit in the petition and same is allowed. Order dated 23.3.2012 Annexure A-1, whereby services of the petitioner were terminated, is quashed and set aside and respondents are directed to reinstate the petitioner in service, alongwith seniority and continuity in service, without any back wages, immediately.”
To read the judgment, click below: