28 Oct 2023 2:34 PM GMT
Rajasthan High Court has recently refused to issue any directions to the state government for granting bonus marks to a group of doctors who appeared in the examination for appointment to the post of medical officers on the sole ground that they have partaken in Covid-related duty.“…The matter related to grant of benefit of bonus marks is a policy decision of the concerned government...
Rajasthan High Court has recently refused to issue any directions to the state government for granting bonus marks to a group of doctors who appeared in the examination for appointment to the post of medical officers on the sole ground that they have partaken in Covid-related duty.
“…The matter related to grant of benefit of bonus marks is a policy decision of the concerned government and petitioners are not entitled to claim the grant of benefit of bonus marks as of right…. rather it is a matter of pure pious obligations, on the part of the State Government to consider the issue in question”, High Court observed.
The single judge bench of Justice Sudesh Bansal also made an observation that the grant of the benefit of bonus marks for Covid duty is a policy decision solely within the realm of the Union government/ State government that acts as a ‘welfare state’, considering the factual matrix of the case. According to the bench sitting at Jaipur, there is no vested right for the doctors to claim the bonus marks based on the recommendations made in Clause 17 of the Letter dated 03.05.2021 issued by the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
In the letter, the Union Government had made a recommendation to the state governments/union territories to give preference to health professionals who have completed 100 days of service in the special scheme of Covid-related duties when it comes to appointments. This letter was intended to encourage healthcare professionals in crisis and tackle the unprecedented situation caused by the pandemic in 2021.
“The contention of writ petitioners that the Government of Rajasthan through Chief Minister also gave assurance to give preference and benefit of bonus marks to the Health personnel, who have rendered medical and health-related services during the pandemic Covid 19 to give the benefit of bonus marks, has not been refuted from the side of respondents…”, the court further added.
The petitioners had alleged that the inaction on the part of the state government in allowing bonus marks while filling vacancies mentioned in the recruitment notification issued by Rajasthan University of Health Sciences (RUHS) is arbitrary and violative of the tenet of non-discrimination enshrined in the constitution.
About amending the selection criteria for the posts of medical officer by giving bonus marks for the services rendered during the pandemic, the court noted that Rajasthan Medical and Health Service Rules, 1963 applicable to the writ petitioners have no provision for providing the benefit of bonus marks. However, as far as the question of appointments to the vacancies for paramedical staff is concerned, unlike the 1963 Rules applicable to Doctors, Rule 19 of Rajasthan Health & Medical Subordinate Service Rules, 1965 permits such an exercise. In this way, the court distinguished both selection criteria and held that the denial to bestow bonus marks cannot be made out as a violation of Article 14 of the Constitution.
“… In the Rules of 1963, learned counsel for petitioners do not dispute that there is no rule for providing benefit of bonus marks. Thus, in absence of any statutory rule in favour of petitioners, which indeed is available for the para medical employees under Rule 19 of the Rules of 1965, the case of petitioners for discrimination is not made out.”
Finally, the single judge bench also underscored that the writ petitioners who couldn’t secure a place in the Merit List after attending the examination cannot resort to claiming the benefit of the bonus marks, especially when all of them have participated in the selection process pursuant to the terms and conditions mentioned in the University recruitment notification.
“…Indisputably, in the advertisement, there is no clause for giving benefit of bonus marks, thus when the petitioners participated in the recruitment process, accepting terms and conditions of the advertisement, claiming any additional benefit of bonus marks in the midst of the selection process, is not permissible in law”, the bench clarified in the order while simultaneously adding that the government, being a welfare state, has the liberty to consider the ‘legitimate expectations’ of professionals like writ petitioners and take appropriate action.
Case Title: Manish Kumar Sharma v. State of Rajasthan Through The Principle Secretary, Department Of Medical And Health (Group-2) and Ors & Connected Matters
Case No: S.B. Civil Writ Petition No. 3167/2023
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Raj)
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