Observing that doctors were being treated in an ‘obnoxious’ and ‘callous’ manner, the Bombay High Court on Monday directed the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial (MGM) Hospital at Parel to take back on duty its ‘only’ radiologist Dr Nimish Shah with immediate effect and assign him work. Dr Shah, head of the department (HoD) of Radiology, had moved the HC after he was relieved from service with immediate effect on June 30.
A division bench of Justices S J Kathawalla and V G Bisht were hearing through videoconference a plea by Dr Shah, who challenged an order of the hospital committee that relieved him from service with immediate effect on June 30.
As per the plea filed by Shah through advocates Girish S Godbole and Atharva Dandekar, he obtained a degree in MD (Radiology) from KEM hospital in 1987 and joined MGM hospital in 1990, where he was promoted as HoD in 1996. The court noted that the state government raised the retirement age of grade A medical officers to 60 years in August 2018 and in July last year it further extended it to 62 years.
On September 19 last year, the hospital issued a circular adopting the state’s decision. However, the hospital committee issued an office order on June 30 and said that since the meeting of the Board of Management to decide enhancement of superannuation was not conducted, it had been decided to retire medical officers who had attained the age of 58 years.
When the court put queries, Shankar Revankar, Medical Superintendent of the hospital, informed it that presently the hospital had 60 operational beds and that Dr Shah was the only radiologist holding the degree.
When the court further enquired as to why a meeting of the Board of Management has not been held since September last year for over 10 months, Revankar said that while he had asked for a meeting three months ago, no such step was taken by the management. The court noted, “The revelations by the Medical Superintendent of the hospital are shocking.”
After perusing submissions, the bench led by Justice Kathawalla observed, “We are prima facie of the view that the functioning of the Board and Committee of Management is grossly irresponsible. It ought to have at least had one meeting after September 19, 2019 to consider and approve the decision of its committee to enhance the retirement age from 58 years to 60 years.”
Pulling up the hospital management, the bench added, “In view of the current pandemic, the citizens are going through trying times. However, the doctors who have served the hospital for several decades, and are ready to continue their services in such difficult times also, are being treated in an obnoxious and callous manner by the management of the MGM Hospital.”
It added, “The picture that emerges from the above facts is also that the MGM Hospital and its functionaries are not bothered about the well-being of its patients, and just because the Board of Management had no time to meet in the last 10 months, the patients have been left without any Radiologist in the hospital.”
Observing this, the court stayed the June 30 decision and asked Dr Shah to report to the hospital and perform his duties as Radiologist. Asking the hospital to file affidavits in response, the court posted further hearing on July 9.
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