Published: 15th December 2022
Bond Policy in Uttarakhand: State terminates 61 medical officers. Here's why
Out of the 61 officers terminated from service, 18 were bonded. The state health department has been directed to initiate the procedure to recover the bond amount from these students
The Uttarakhand government on Thursday, December 15, terminated 61 medical officers who were absent without authorisation. The officers were posted in Provincial Medical and Health Services (PMHS). Among them, 43 officers are non-bonded and 18 are bonded.
The announcement came in an official notification released by the Additional Health Secretary, Amandeep Kaur. The notification also said that the officers did not respond to, or cooperate with the government despite notices issued to them through newspapers, reported ANI.
Additionally, the notification also directed the health department to issue notice to the 18 bonded officers to "contribute to their departments." If they fail to do so, the department has been directed to initiate the procedure to recover the bond money from these students.
As per the bond policy of the state, set by the Uttarakhand Medical Council, MBBS students in state government medical colleges are obliged to serve a minimum of five years at state-run government hospitals or health centres located in the hilly, remote regions of the state. Failure to do so costs these students Rs 1 crore in penalty.
The bond policy is in place in several states, with varying requirements of penalty amounts and service time. The policy is the centre of a massive protest in Haryana, where students are demanding the policy be scrapped, as it is "hurting merit." Students at state-run medical colleges in Haryana, who have been protesting for more than 40 days now have also expressed their inability to write their annual exams beginning on December 26.
According to reports, the Union Health Ministry is working on guidelines to scrap the bond policy. It was in 2019 that the Supreme Court, while upholding the bond policy in states, said that the health ministry and the NMC must work on regulating the terms of the policy and making it uniform across the country. Then, the Health Ministry formed a committee to study the issue, and the recommendations of this committee were forwarded to the National Medical Commission. The NMC, in its submissions on the committee's report, said that there was a need to review the necessity of the policy, considering changes in the infrastructure of the healthcare system since it was first introduced. The NMC suggested that the policy be scrapped.
In Haryana, the protests led to the state government announcing that the bond amount would be reduced from Rs 40 lakh to Rs 30 lakh, and the service term from seven years to five years. However, an official notification on the matter is still pending from the state.
The issue regarding the bond policy for MBBS graduates in Haryana was mentioned in the Rajya Sabha during the Parliament's winter session on December 13. The issue was raised by a Member of Parliament from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Sushil Kumar Gupta.
In his reply, Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare said that the policy was a state subject. He also added that medical graduates should be given the "opportunity to serve" after they complete their education.