Chennai: A group of serving government hospital doctors moved the Madras High Court on Monday for quashing of clause 9(a) (i)of the admission prospectus for admission to postgraduate degree/diploma courses under the government quota in government medical colleges, as well as, self-financing medical colleges affiliated to the Tamil Nadu Dr MGR Medical University and in the Rajah Muthiah Medical College affiliated to Annamalai University in Chidambaram for 2018-19. The clause excluded both maternity leave and earned leave from the period of continuous service.
Justice S Vaidyanathan before whom the case filed by Dr Aruna and 6 others came up for hearing adjourned it for a day, making it clear orally, to all present that the matter could not be expedited before the next day’s hearing.
Senior counsel, for the petitioners, P Wilson explained that all his clients are in-service candidates working in government hospitals who want to pursue PG courses after having successfully qualified the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test. Meanwhile, the State Health Secretary issued the said prospectus on March 15, which is based on the selection committee recommendations.
According to Advocate Wilson, clause 9 (a) (i) of the prospectus completely excludes the services of female doctors, who had availed maternity leave in the past two years, from being eligible to apply for admission.
Calling the rule ‘illegal’, he highlighted to TNIE that the same court in another connected case arising out of similar facts has already acknowledged the maternity leave rights of female doctors. Hence, clause 9 (a) (i) he said could not be cannot be endorsed in law. He added that Availing of maternity leave was a constitutional right of women, as it fell under the right to health enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution. Availing of maternity leave was also recognized as a statutory right under the Maternity Benefits Act the advocate stated. Hence, he said that the authorities, through the impugned proceedings, cannot overrule the benefits conferred under a statute.
Arguing on the issue of earned leave, he said government’s exclusion of doctors who have availed earned leave from the purview of continuous service was also wrong as ‘earned leave’ is a right bestowed on doctors, who have worked for a particular number of days in a year.
The government, he said while giving the option to the petitioners of taking earned leave, had not alerted them on the account that if availed it would exclude them from the period of continuous service.