Their letter expressing a desire to quit owing to the government’s indifference will not cost two doctors their job, thanks to a Bombay high court order. The state government had challenged an order of the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (MAT) on January 19 this year allowing two doctors, from the department of obstetrics and gynecology of the JJ Hospital at Byculla, to return to their jobs by holding that the “resignations tendered by the applicants (the two doctors) were under duress and by way of frustration.”
The two doctors, Disha Rajput and Kavita Tilwani, were both lecturers at the state government-run Grant Medical College in 2005 and 2007 respectively. On August 21, 2009, six doctors had submitted a letter to the government stating: “as a protest against government’s apathy and non-action against injustice and humiliation meted to them that they are resigning.”
In the letter, the court recorded, the doctors had stated that the government has taken no steps towards improving the hygiene in the hospital as a result of which patients were becoming prone to bacterial infections. Since the government had not taken any corrective measures for the same despite reminders from time to time, the doctors said in their letter, they were tendering a conditional resignation with a month’s notice. The letter was withdrawn six days after it was submitted. The letter was jointly written by six doctors. However, the government issued relieving orders to only Tilwani and Rajput based on this letter.
But prior to the withdrawal letter of August 27, 2009, the aggrieved duo was given a relieving letter on August 26, 2009. The MAT in its findings had recorded that “strangely the government of Maharashtra chose to accept only two doctors’ resignation and not four other very senior doctors and that there was no explanation given in the affidavit in reply as to why the government had not accepted resignations of other doctors.” Tilwani and Rajput had therefore contended that the action against them was also discriminatory.
The counsel for the state government submitted to the court that the two doctors who had been issued relieving orders were on probation while the other four doctors were permanent employees. Owing to that, he said, their cases may have been dealt with differently.
After hearing the arguments, justice PB Majmudar and justice GR Ketkar agreed with the inference drawn by the tribunal and held that the letter written by the doctors cannot be treated as a resignation. “At the most it can be said to be merely an expression of intention to resign in a particular eventuality,” the judges said in their order.
The court directed the government to allow the two doctors to resume their duty latest by April 19.