The Bombay High Court bench of Justices Ravindra Ghuge and Sanjay Mehare at the Aurangabad seat on Friday ordered the Director of Medical Education to conduct a thorough disciplinary enquiry against Dr Ashish Bhivapurkar, who has been withdrawing salary without attending his work at the Aurangabad hospital and medical college from April 2018.
The bench was hearing a PIL filed by parliamentarian Syed Imtiaz Jaleel, appearing in person, highlighting the high number of posts in medical fraternity lying vacant for years altogether in Maharashtra.
During a previous hearing, Jaleel informed the bench about the judgment of the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (MAT) that was dealing with a plea filed by Dr Bhivapurkar challenging his transfer to the medical college and hospital at Aurangabad.
According to the records before the MAT, Dr Bhivapurkar, a Cardiolar Thoracic Surgeon, was transferred to Aurangabad from Mumbai's JJ hospital in October 2014 by the MPSC.
However, Dr Bhivapurkar didn't report to his duty at Aurangabad and went on an "extraordinary leave" for more than a month. Further, he was again relieved from JJ hospital in June 2017 but he purportedly reported on his duty at Aurngabad only in April 2018 and didn't sign the attendance muster for a whole month.
The bench had accordingly called from the hospital, the attendance record of Dr Bhivapurkar from April 2018 to April 2021. However, the hospital didn't submit his biometric details stating that the doctor never registered for the same and instead furnished the attendance muster.
Going through the attendance muster, the judges noted that Dr Bhivapurkar had signed even on national holidays. It further noted that the doctor had even signed the muster when he was out on leaves for months altogether.
The record further showed that in the last three years, Dr Bhivapurkar performed only eight surgeries and attended the hospital meeting only once.
"It is therefore, apparent that the attendance register raises a serious doubt about it’s genuineness. The fact that Dr.Bhivapurkar appears to have signed on all days even in the months when he was on leave and later on noticing the mistake has scored out the attendance, makes things more serious," the bench noted, adding, "In his hurriedness in signing for all months for almost three years after purportedly joining at Aurangabad, he has also marked his attendance in the months in which he was on leave and even on Sundays and national holidays".
Accordingly, Jaleel sought a judicial enquiry into the matter saying that there might be several other such cases in the state's health system.
However, the bench opined that the competent authority - Director of Medical Education would be the best to conduct a disciplinary probe in the matter.
"We therefore, order him (director) to initiate disciplinary proceedings so as to investigate as to whether, the allegations against Dr Bhivapurkar could turn out to be true and in the event of the said allegations being true, appropriate action would then have to be initiated by him strictly in accordance with the service rules applicable", the bench ordered, while adjourning the matter till August 20.