Ayurvedic doctors covered under AYUSH are also entitled to the benefit of enhanced superannuation age of 65 years at par with allopathic doctors, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday. A Bench of Justice L Nageswara Rao and Justice Hrishikesh Roy opined that both – allopathic and Ayurvedic doctors – render service to patients and on this core aspect there is nothing to distinguish them.
There is no rational justification for having different dates for bestowing the benefit of extended age of superannuation to these two categories of doctors, said the top court.
In the judgment, the top court said, “We have no hesitation in holding that the respondent doctors (Ayurvedic) are entitled to their full salary arrears and the same is ordered to be disbursed, within eight weeks from today. Belated payment beyond the stipulated period will carry interest, at the rate of six percent from the date of this order until the date of payment. It is ordered accordingly.”
“We are quite clear in our mind that the respondents must be paid their lawful remuneration arrears and current, as the case may be. The State cannot be allowed to plead financial burden to deny salary for the legally serving doctors. Otherwise, it would violate their rights under Articles 14, 21, and 23 of the Constitution,” the judgment further stated.
The bench’s judgment came on an appeal filed by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) against the November 2018 verdict of the Delhi High Court which had upheld a Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) order holding that applicants who are Ayurvedic doctors covered under AYUSH are also entitled to the benefit of enhanced superannuation age of 65 years (raised from 60 years), same as the allopathic doctors.
On the contentions of the NDMC that classification of AYUSH doctors and doctors under Central Health Services (CHS) in different categories is reasonable and permissible in law, the bench clarified that the classification is “discriminatory and unreasonable” since doctors under both segments are performing the same function of treating and healing patient.
The top court said that the difference in the method of treatment employed by the two systems will not be a reasonable ground to classify Ayurvedic and allopathic doctors differently for fixing retirement age.