Around 2000 resident doctors attached to civic-run public hospitals of the Bombay Municipal Corporation (BMC), got a shock in receiving their monthly stipend on Friday 9th February 2018. They found that over half the sum had been, for the first time ever, deducted in taxes! Members of the central committee of the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) at a press conference on Saturday 10th February 2018 explained that they all resident doctors are students who pay yearly fees to the respective colleges and are given a stipend in lieu of the back breaking work they do in hospitals. The Income Tax Act clearly mentions that tax must be deducted at source only from salary and other professional earnings etc. Hence it is only applicable to those who are employed.
The BMC has considered them as an employee to justify tax deduction. But, when they apply for leave even due to illness caused by their continuous and direct contact with people affected with contagious diseases, they are told that since they are students they are not entitled for leave and their stipend is deducted for the days they are absent.
It is well known that most of the government hospitals, whether they are under the wings of Municipal corporations or State governments, are greatly dependent on lakhs of resident doctors who shoulder lot of work burden while studying in the attached colleges. The resident doctors are in fact used as cheap labor. Every year in many parts of the country, resident doctors have to fight for their rights. Unless they fight every few years their stipend is not increased. They had to go on strike even for improved facilities for patients.
When resident doctors of Maharashtra had gone on an definite strike a few years ago, the Maharashtra government had promised them that it would look into all their grievances. But even now nothing has been done about their demands like increased & better hostel facilities. Now government is attacking them by deducting Income Tax from their stipend!