Challenge to mandatory rural service for young doctors: Karnataka High Court seeks response from Central, State government

The Karnataka High Court recently gave a notice in a petition filed by medical students questioning the legality of the Karnataka Compulsory Service by Candidates Completed Medical Courses Act 2012 (Compulsory Act) which forces students who have completed medical education to provide mandatory rural service for a year.

Apart from the validity of the act, the petitioners have challenged the validity of a notification which was issued by the Directorate of Medical Education, instructing the colleges to retain all original documents of students who have completed their medical courses.

The government advocate submitted that the State Government, Director of Medical Education/The Commissioner of Health and Family Welfare Department has not called for any counselling in respect of the allotment of Primary Health Centres/ Government Hospital for Mandatory Rural Service.

The petition stated that though the High Court had upheld the constitutional validity of the Act, the petitioners argued that the law on compulsory government service cannot continue to operate after the Central government notified the National Medical Commission (NMC) Act, 2019.

The petition also mentioned that the apex court asked the government to make a uniform policy on mandatory government service since many States did have this service. In this view, the petitioner argued that the State cannot impose this service because this power is now vested only with the NMC.

The petition questioned the validity of the notification issued by the Directorate of Medical Education, instructing colleges to retain all original documents of students who have completed their medical courses.

The documents are important to apply for the graduate National Eligibility-Cum-Entrance to joint postgraduate medical courses. Therefore, denying their documents is contrary to the law and deprives their right to opt for higher education.

Therefore, the petitioner has sought quashing of the Compulsory Act and the notification.

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