- The appellant doctor joined the service of the Government of National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi, in 2014 in Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital, New Delhi.
- He duly completed his five years of service and was entitled to a study leave to pursue the post-graduate course, according to the guidelines of the Ministry.
- In 2020, he was permitted to appear for PG exam INICET-2020 which he successfully cleared.
- He applied for a study leave to pursue his post-graduate studies but due to an order by the Delhi Government to not to grant any further study leave regarding the COVID situation, his application for leave was rejected by the respondent and the allotment of the Post Graduate seat to the him was cancelled.
- The appellant filed a writ petition before the Delhi High Court challenging the order of respondent of not granting a study leave to enable him to join the post-graduate course at PGI, Chandigarh which led to his dismissal.
- The writ petition was dismissed by the Division Bench of the High Court, and the same order is challenged before the Supreme Court.
- The counsel appearing on behalf of the appellant argued that the decision of the respondent of declining the study leave to the appellant was arbitrary.
- Additional Solicitor General, appearing on behalf of the respondent submitted that respondent had not acted arbitrarily or discriminated against the appellant.
- ASG also argued that, even though cases of COVID were on a decline, there were predictions of the second wave, and doctors of hospitals run by the Government of NCT, Delhi, could not, therefore, be spared for higher studies.
- She also stated that study leave cannot be claimed as a matter of right as it was on the Government to refuse any study leave if the presence of a doctor was required in the public interest.
OBSERVATIONS OF THE COURT
- The Bench observed that the policy decision not to grant study leave to doctors for a certain length of time is neither arbitrary, discriminatory, nor violative of Article 14.
- The Court set aside the impugned order of the High Court and observed that Courts cannot be oblivious to fair treatment to doctors like the appellant and enable them to pursue higher studies.
- The Bench also observed that the policy decision to not grant study leave cannot be continued indefinitely and it should be reviewed from time to time to make modifications and relaxations with the change in circumstances.
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