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State stand on remote health areas upheld by Calcutta HC

April 19, 2012
The criteria, outlined by the state government to classify remote health areas in different districts of Bengal, was upheld by Calcutta high court on Wednesday. Junior doctors serving in state-run hospitals and health centres, located in these remote health areas, are entitled to 10-30 grace marks during admission to the postgraduate MD course.
In 2008, the Medical Council of India (MCI) had introduced an incentive for junior doctors serving in remote hospitals and health centres. This is in the form of an increase in 10-30 marks during admission to the postgraduate MD course. The MCI notification left it to state governments to determine remote health areas.
Justice Tapen Sen on Wednesday dismissed writ petitions challenging the state government’s November 2011 notification outlining the criteria to determine remote health areas.
Doctors serving in health centres in Sandeshkhali, Minakha and other distant Sunderbans hamlets in South 24 Parganas moved the petition. They contended that the state government had discriminated against areas where their health centres are located while determining remote health areas. During hearings on their writ, they further contended that the distant areas in South 24 Parganas have not been classified as remote while the places, where Bangur Hospital and Bagha Jatin State General Hospital are located, have been included in the list of remote areas in spite of being close to Kolkata.
So, during admission to the MD course, they would not get any benefit in the form of increased marks, while doctors who have served in hospitals closer to Kolkata will enjoy grace marks and, hence, will enjoy a competitive advantage. The petition further described the state government’s decision as arbitrary.
Initially, Justice Sen had stayed the government’s notification issued in November.
Appeals were filed against the stay order. The division bench presided over by Chief Justice J N Patel sent the cases back to Justice Sen who was asked to rehear in details.
Appearing for the state, government pleader Ashok Kumar Banerjee opposed the writ petition. Banerjee argued that the decision was not arbitrary. He contended that because of such determination, people in areas like the Sunderbans will receive better services from doctors. Banerjee further argued that in today’s world, no area can be treated as remote as all areas have motorable roads and are easily accessible. While dismissing the writ petitions, Justice Sen accepted Banerjee’s arguments.
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