New Delhi Aug 4(ILNS): The Supreme Court while hearing an appeal filed by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation has held that the classification between the Ayurvedic Doctors covered under AYUSH and Allopathic Doctors covered under Central Health Scheme (CHS) is discriminatory and unreasonable since doctors under both segments are performing the same function of treating and healing their patients.
The Division Bench comprising of Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Hrishikesh Roy after hearing the parties and being inclined to and agreeing with the findings of the Tribunal and the Delhi High Court observed that “The only difference is that AYUSH doctors are using indigenous systems of medicine like Ayurveda, Unani, etc. and CHS doctors are using Allopathy for tending to their patients. In our understanding, the mode of treatment by itself under the prevalent scheme of things does not qualify as an intelligible differentia.”
The petition has been filed by North Delhi Municipal Corporation challenging the order of the Central Administrative Tribunal that declared that the 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), just like the allopathic doctors.
Senior Advocate, R. Balasubramaniam appearing for the Appellant, contended that the benefit of enhanced retirement age should have been extended only w.e.f. September 27, 2017, as per the AYUSH Ministry’s decision, as there is limited scope for interference on a cutoff date, stipulated by the government. He further contends that the appellants should not be burdened with the liability to disburse the unpaid arrear salary to the respondents.
Opposing the contentions of the appellant the Counsel on behalf of the Respondents argued that the action of the authorities in the treatment of the allopathic Doctors visàvis the ayurvedic doctors was discriminatory and violative of Article 14 of Constitution.
He further argued that there can be no separate service condition in so far as the superannuation age is concerned between allopathic and other category doctors, particularly when the AYUSH Ministry itself on November 24, 2017, has enhanced the retirement age for the nonallopathic doctors w.e.f. September 27, 2017, in tune with the Ministry’s order dated May 31, 2016.
While considering the issue of the age of the superannuation, the Bench has further held that no rational justification is seen for having different dates for bestowing the benefit of extended age of superannuation to these two categories of doctors.
Accordingly, the Court has dismissed the Appeal filed by the NDMC and ordered that the respondent doctors are entitled to their full salary arrears and that must be disbursed, within 8 weeks from that date of the order. Belated payment beyond the stipulated period will carry interest, at the rate of 6% from the date of this order until the date of payment./ILNS/DS/GM/SV/SNG