On 2 February 2023, the Madras High Court ruled that doctors who have served on COVID-19 duty may have their two-year period of compulsory bond service adjusted in the light of the time they spent on duty during the pandemic.

The case was heard after several doctors who, during the pandemic, were doing super specialty courses, filed a petition asking for the adjustment of their government compulsory service period since they served as front-line workers during the pandemic. The doctors had already completed their degree when the pandemic broke out and, after finishing their specialty courses, were supposed to serve a two-years period of compulsory service for the local government. However, as COVID-19 broke out, they were called on duty.

The government, as respondent, pointed out that the doctors should not take advantage of the time spent on duty during the pandemic. However, the court noted that other government doctors – who were not doing super specialty courses – had their compulsory service period adjusted in the light of the time spent on COVID-19 duty. Therefore, the government cannot discriminate the petitioners only because they were studying super specialty courses at the time. Furthermore, the petitioners had volunteered to be on COVID-19 duty and had taken the risk of treating patients during the first wave of the pandemic, as every other medical professional during the pandemic has. Thus, there are no reason to apply a different treatment to the petitioners only because they were also studying specialty courses.

Thus, the court directed the local government to adjust the compulsory service period.

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