Friday, December 8, 2023

Quarantine period during Covid duty to be considered as part of bond period: Madras High Court

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The Madras High Court while allowing the petition observed that the period of quarantine during the covid duty rendered by post graduate medical students will be considered to be a part of the bond period.

A Single Bench of Justice Anita Sumanth passed this order while hearing a petition filed by Dr Pradeep Vasudevan.

In this Case, the petitioner is a Doctor, who had completed Post Graduation in General Medicine from KAP Viswanathan Medical College in the non service category.

He had completed the course in May, 2022 and had, at the time of admission to the course, executed a bond for a sum of Rs 40 lakhs undertaking that he would serve the State for a period of two years after completion of the course. The bond period, admittedly, runs till 31.05.2024.

Within a few months of commencing the course, the Covid 19 pandemic had struck and the petitioner, and, in fact several other identically / similarly placed candidates, were required to be on covid duty in R5 Hospital.

Though no appointment orders could be issued seeing as the petitioner was a student then, his services during the covid period is not disputed as duty sheets for the service rendered have duly been produced by the petitioner and verified by the respondent counsel.

The Court observed that,

In these cases, the petitioners were students who were required to perform covid duty during their course and the Court has held, and I concur with these decisions, that the covid duty rendered by the students should be taken note of as service during the bond period.

An additional question that arises in this case is as to whether quarantine relatable to covid period can also be taken as bond service. The period of quarantine is, in my considered view, nothing but an extension of covid duty itself as the Rules prevalent then required mandatory quarantine. The petitioner would well have continued with the duty in the covid ward itself has it not been for the mandate of compulsory quarantine.

“Thus, taking the period of quarantine also as on-duty, such a period in this case is quantified as 150 days. On-duty call sheets duly signed by the Dean of R5 college have been produced by the petitioner. This will advance the closure of bond period to 02.01.2024 from 31.05.2024”, the Court further observed while allowing the petition.

“The petitioner’s request for a mandamus directing the respondents to treat the compulsory bond period as concluding on 02.01.2024 is accepted. R5 is directed, upon completion of bond period on 02.01.2024, to return to the petitioner his original certificates received at the time of admission to PG course”, the order reads.

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