The people-to-doctors ratio in the country is abysmally low, the Calcutta High Court observed in a recent order while upholding the denial of voluntary retirement to a doctor, Live Law reported on Thursday.

A division bench of Justices Harish Tandon and Prasenjit Biswas was hearing a petition by the West Bengal government against a 2019 order of the state administrative tribunal that had allowed an application by the doctor, Madhab Sarkar, for voluntary retirement. The tribunal had said that Sarkar has fulfilled all the conditions laid down in the service rules for the facility.

Sarkar had approached the tribunal after the state government rejected his application for voluntary retirement.

The tribunal said that as per Rule 75 (aaa) of the service rules, if the applicant fulfilled all the conditions, there was no option available to the government other than granting voluntary retirement.

The High Court, however, said that the tribunal overlooked an amendment to the service rules which stated that the provision would not apply to those working in the West Bengal Health Services, the West Bengal Medical Education Services, the West Bengal Public Health-cum-Administrative Services, the West Bengal Dental Service and West Bengal Dental Education Service.

The bench said that according to the amended provision, the government could refuse to grant voluntary retirement on account of public interest, according to Live Law.

“The people doctor ratio in the country is abysmally low and there is a dearth and paucity of doctors at government hospitals where the poorest of the poor got benefit of the treatment,” the court remarked.

It added: “The health sector being the most important sector in the administration of the system for not only rendition of the services to the society but to the humanity as well. The health of the citizenry plays a very pivotal role in the development of the society and the country.”

The High Court set aside the tribunal’s order and directed Sarkar to resume duty within a fortnight.