The Punjab government's decision of granting extension for joining time to about 20 dental medical officers up to a period of three years has come under the scanner of the high court.
Taking up a public interest litigation filed by Balwinder Singh of Ludhiana, a division bench headed by justice Jasbir Singh has issued notice of motion to the Punjab government to file its reply before December 17.
The petitioner has sought directions for quashing of an order dated October 25 in which the state government had granted extension of joining time to about 20 dental medical officers despite acute shortage of doctors in the state. The court has also been requested to direct the health department to appoint the doctors who are next in the waiting list.
The state government had issued public notice on July 26 last year for filling 114 posts of dental medical officers. Finally, appointment letters to 108 dental medical officers were issued on July 9 this year. However, on October 25, out of the 108 doctors, 20 were given extension for joining time up to a period of 3 years on the ground that they were pursuing postgraduate course.
The court was told that as per the state government's instructions dated January 18, 2000, permission for postgraduate course could be given to only those doctors whose service record was satisfactory and who had completed the required rural service. It was also submitted that as per the state government's survey conducted in 1989-90, around 64% of the state's population was suffering from dental diseases and dental surgeon to population ratio was 1:30,000 in urban areas and 1:1.19 lakh in rural areas.
The court was told that due to the acute shortage of medical officers, most of the dispensaries were lying defunct for want of doctors in many parts of the state.