Refusing to quash the government resolution (GR) that mandated MBBS students to be appointed for Covid-19 duty, as was prayed for in a petition moved by 132 students from two Ahmedabad-based medical colleges, the Gujarat High Court (HC) directed the state to ensure that the hard work of medical students must not go unnoticed and that they should be offered stipends.
A division bench of the HC refused to interfere with the GR of July 17, issued by the state health department, which had stated that undergraduate students of the Gujarat government’s medical and paramedical colleges, medical colleges associated with the Gujarat Medical Education Research (GMERS), self-financed medical colleges and grant-in-aid institutions shall be trained on various subjects related to Covid care and management and then be deployed at designated Covid hospitals in anticipation of “shortage of human resources”. The bench, however, issued directions to the state government to ensure the students’ safety.
The directions stipulated that the students “must be thoroughly trained in the tasks and jobs assigned to them,” and that they must be offered a stipend each for the time and efforts they put in. The division bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice JB Pardiwala also instructed that in appreciation of the students’ services, “the academic transcripts of the students should mention that they boldly performed duties at Covid hospitals and centers during the time of the pandemic. This… will be appreciated across the globe when they apply for further studies and specializations.”
It also directed that the government should make adequate arrangements for the students on Covid duty to self isolate themselves. The court further noted that “severely immunocompromised students, who have chronic underlying conditions like diabetes, heart conditions, cardiovascular diseases or others, shall be spared from compulsory duty under the pretext of their service being a severe health hazard.”
However, the court expressed that the litigation had “thoroughly disappointed” the bench. It noted that the litigant-students are refusing to serve “substantially on a lame excuse that for the past five months they have not been able to attend their college and within the next three to four months they will have to appear in the final exam and they need time to prepare themselves for the exam… We believe that the contribution of students would significantly improve patient care. It is disheartening to see that medical students in the final year of their programme, who have a vast wealth of potential to help out during the pandemic, are choosing to shy away from their responsibilities.” The court remarked that “such an attitude is quite condemnable.”
The state submitted that it has become very difficult to procure necessary help in the form of medical services, leaving the government with no other option but to ask final year MBBS students to render their services. It was also submitted that If other states have not made it compulsory for their medical students to render services, it does not mean that Gujarat cannot issue a resolution seeking compulsory service from medical students.
Third year MBBS students of NHL Municipal Medical College and AMC-MET Medical College at Ahmedabad – both run, managed and controlled by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) – had opposed compulsory Covid-19 duty mandated by the GR, as well as circulars from their respective college deans threatening non-attendee students with dire consequences.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines