Take action against docs shunning tribal duty: Bombay High Court

The Bombay High Court (HC) on Wednesday suggested that the Maharashtra government should take deterrent action against doctors refusing to take up postings in tribal areas which witnesses several deaths every year due to malnutrition.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Wednesday, December 21, 2022, 09:44 PM IST
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Bombay High Court | PTI

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court (HC) on Wednesday suggested that the Maharashtra government should take deterrent action against doctors refusing to take up postings in tribal areas which witnesses several deaths every year due to malnutrition.

A division bench of acting Chief Justice SV Gangapurwala and SG Chapalgaonkar was hearing a bunch of pleas, including those filed by activists Dr Rajendra Burma and Bandu Sampatrao Sane, raising concerns over malnutrition among children in the Melghat region and seeking appropriate measures to fill up vacancies of doctors in the tribal areas. The court enlarged the scope of the PIL to the entire state.

Mr Sane informed the court that this year alone there have been 10,000 deaths in the state due to malnutrition. He also pointed out that no doctors or specialists were willing to take up postings in tribal areas. According to Mr Sane, the tribal region doesn't have a single gynaecologist or radiologist. “Don't they (tribal people) deserve doctors?” he asked.

The bench then asked the government what it was doing to ensure that the doctors take up postings in tribal areas. Additional government pleader Neha Bhide said that the government was posting doctors and that it was mandatory for them to take up tribal postings. However, the doctors do not report to work in tribal areas. “Many doctors and specialists refuse to go there. Despite signing a bond and giving an undertaking, they do not report for work,” said Ms Bhide. She added that the bond amount has been increased up to Rs1 crore and said further that the Maharashtra Public Service Commission had taken steps for filling up the vacancies.

Mr Gangapurwala said there was no doubt that the government was appointing doctors for tribal regions, but the issue is that they (doctors) were not reporting for duty. “So what deterrent action are you (government) taking? Methodology should be developed so that these doctors join there,” he said.

Ms Bhide assured the court that the government was not treating this PIL as an adversarial litigation. The HC has kept the matter for hearing on Jan 19, 2023.

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