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PIL seeking ban on Private Practice by Govt Doctors

In a significant order, a Division Bench of J&K High Court comprising Chief Justice Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Javed Iqbal Wani has disposed of a PIL seeking ban/restrictions on the private practice of Govt doctors by observing that Govt has adequately taken care of the said issue and the violation thereof has been made punishable and the adequate rules are already in place, thus, there is no purpose in issuing any further mandamus or direction to the Govt of J&K to frame any policy or rules in regard thereto.

After hearing Advocate Ajay Gandotra and Ms. Sughandha Sawhney-petitioner in person and Advocate General D.C. Raina with Senior AAG H.A. Siddiqui and AAG Ravinder Gupta appearing for Govt of J&K, the Division Bench directed that if the petitioner Sughandha Sawhney-a law student, feels that anyone is violating the rules, she may make a complaint to the Competent Authority where upon the matter will be inquired into and if necessary appropriate action in accordance with law shall be taken.

The Division Bench further observed that the third prayer of the petitioner is for putting restrictions on the medical students passing out from Govt Medical/Dental Colleges from the Union Territory to serve at any place outside the territories. In this regard, the DB observed that, any such rule or restriction if directed to be placed upon any person would impinge upon his fundamental right to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business at the place of his choice. Therefore, the DB held that “we cannot issue any direction which may have the effect of infringing upon the fundamental right of the others.”

The Division Bench further observed that the petitioner submits that she has made a representation to the Lieutenant Governor, Union Territory of J&K on June 26, 2020 requesting him to give due consideration to her request to take preventive and punitive action against those indulging in private practice and charging excessive fees, to ensure that common public does not suffer at their hands. The DB, however, observed that the said representation is worded in a very casual and a vague manner and that it does not even mention the date. The DB further observed that in case, the petitioner is really aggrieved and is concerned with the interest of general public or if the petitioner feels that any person in medical service is violating the aforesaid rules, it is open for her to make a proper and comprehensive representation to the Financial Commissioner, Department of Health & Medical Education and it goes without saying that in case, any such representation is made, the officer concerned will take appropriate action and ensure that the aforesaid rules are strictly followed and those found violating the same are punished in accordance with law as provided in the said rules.

The DB however clarified that the disposal of this writ petition would not come in the way of any other similar Petitions or Public Interest Litigations pending in this regard. With these observations and directions the Division Bench disposed of the instant PIL.

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