Upholding the Punjab government rules, the Punjab and Haryana high court has made it clear that rural medical officers (RMOs) working under zila parishads cannot be treated on a par with Punjab Civil Medical Service (PCMS) doctors for using 60% in-service quota in postgraduation-course admission.
The division bench comprising chief justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and justice Augustine George Masih took the decision while dismissing a bunch of petitions by the RMOs challenging the high court's single-judge order that had dismissed their prayer on May 22.
The court said the RMOs could not claim parity with civil doctors on the argument that both had completed the same MBBS course. The court said the method of their recruitment and also the cadres were different.
The RMOs are district cadre, since they work under zila parishads for rural service, while the PCMS doctors are state cadre. However, the court said that it did not mean in any way that the RMOs were inferior. The RMO cadre was separated from the PCMS in 2006 to recruit rural doctors specifically for serving at the grass-roots level, and they were regularised in 2011.
Punjab govt stand
Vini Mahajan, Punjab's principal secretary of health and family welfare department, submitted in the court on Thursday that under the high court directions, a meeting led by the chief secretary had been convened on Wednesday. The participants had concluded that given the nature of the RMOs' duties, there was no rationale in allowing them postgraduate seats under the government quota and getting the state to finance their education, said Mahajan.
However, it was submitted that there was merit in allowing the quota in the present form to the PCMS doctors, who were required to man secondary-level institutions requiring specialist services.
The state government notification dated April 4, 2013, says that in the government institutions, 50% of the seats will be filled by the union government at the all-India level through National
Eligibility and Entrance Test, Post Graduation (NEETPG). The remaining seats will be filled through NEET-PG at the state level from candidates having Punjab-resident status.
Of the remaining seats, 60% will be filled from among the eligible PCMS/PCMS(dental)/Punjab
Dental Education Service(PDES) in-service doctors, and 40% will be open to all eligible medical and dental science graduates.
The candidates should be regular PCMS employees with at least four-year service in very difficult area or six-year service in difficult area or an appropriate combination of both. The RMOs, once selected in the PCMS, get benefits of rural service rendered under zila parishads.
PCMS docs happy
The PCMS Association of Punjab welcomed the court's decision. "The government should do away with the different categories of doctors. There should be a single cadre of doctors so that everybody gets equal work and equal opportunities to advance," said Dr Gagandeep Shergill, general secretary of the association.