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Supreme Court: Uttarakhand’s NOC Ban for Out-of-State Medical Jobs to be reviewed, Denies interim order to Assistant Professor

New Delhi: The Supreme Court vacation bench of Justices Rajesh Bindal and Prasanna B. Varale has decided to review the Uttarakhand government’s directive that prohibits the issuance of No Objection Certificates (NOC) for employment in government medical colleges outside the state. In response to a petition filed by an Assistant Professor of Community Medicine at the Government Medical College of Uttarakhand, the Supreme Court has issued a notice to the state government, requesting a response within six weeks.

However, the Supreme Court declined to issue any interim order in favor of the petitioner. Assistant Professor Rudresh Negi has challenged the Uttarakhand government’s August 27, 2020, order denying the NOC. The petition also contests the Uttarakhand High Court’s decision, which upheld the government’s order to withhold NOCs for jobs in government medical colleges outside the state. The vacation bench of the Supreme Court have issued a notice regarding the petition. The vacation bench clarified that the court will only examine the legality of the Uttarakhand government’s August 27, 2020, order, which denies the issuance of NOCs to faculty members of government medical colleges seeking employment elsewhere. This means the Supreme Court will determine whether the state’s refusal to grant the NOC is legally valid or not.

In this case, Rudresh Negi, an Assistant Professor of Community Medicine at the Government Medical College in Haldwani, sought an NOC to apply for a faculty position at the Medical Science Institute of Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi. However, his request for the NOC was denied. The order dated August 27, 2020, which has been contested by the Uttarakhand government and involves the refusal to grant NOCs, stipulates that an NOC will only be issued to a teacher in a government medical college if they have applied for a position at another government medical college within the state. It was further stated in the order that existing government medical colleges are experiencing a shortage of faculty members, and the government plans to establish additional medical colleges in the future. Due to this scarcity of qualified individuals for faculty appointments, the request for issuing NOCs to existing faculty members for employment outside the state cannot be accommodated. The petitioner argued in the High Court that the requirement to obtain an NOC only when applying for a job in government medical colleges within the state is arbitrary and unlawful. It was contended that all government medical colleges should be treated equally as a single group, and therefore, the classification by the Uttarakhand government into government medical colleges within the state and those outside is erroneous.

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Whereas the state government said that giving NOC is the prerogative of the state government. If it finds any person essential for the institution then it can refuse to give NOC. The employer cannot be forced to issue NOC. The High Court dismissed the petition, upholding the decision to withhold NOCs. It agreed with the state government’s counsel that Uttarakhand, being a hilly state, faces a shortage of faculty members in its government medical colleges. The court accepted the argument that if the number of faculty members falls below the required standards, it could jeopardize the recognition of medical colleges. Such a situation would adversely affect not only medical students but also the general public who rely on these government medical colleges for high-quality medical services. The High Court rejected the petition, stating that an employer has the right to refuse to grant an NOC to their employee. It emphasized that the state government has exercised this right by declining to issue NOCs, a prerogative inherent to every employer.