Right To Retire Can’t Be Superior To Right To Life, SC Upholds UP Govt Decision Denying Voluntary Retirement To Doctors [Read Judgment]

Right To Retire Can’t Be Superior To Right To Life, SC Upholds UP Govt Decision Denying Voluntary Retirement To Doctors [Read Judgment]

‘In case all the doctors are permitted to retire, in that situation, there would be a chaos and no doctor would be left in the Government hospitals, which would be against the concept of the welfare state and injurious to public interest.’

The Supreme Court has held that denial of voluntary retirement is permissible under the rules applicable in the State of Uttar Pradesh when services are required.

The bench of Justice Arun Mishra and Justice S Abdul Nazeer observed that when there is a requirement of the services of an employee, the appointing authority may exercise its right not to accept the prayer for voluntary retirement.

The Issue

The issue (in State of UP vs. Achal Singh) before the bench, while considering an appeal against the Allahabad High court judgment, was whether under Rule 56 of the Uttar Pradesh Fundamental Rules as amended, an employee has unfettered right to seek voluntary retirement by serving a notice of three months to the state government or whether the state government under the explanation attached to Rule 56 of the Fundamental Rules, is authorised to decline the prayer for voluntary retirement in the public interest under clause (c) of Rule 56 of the Fundamental Rules as applicable to the State of Uttar Pradesh.

Background

Dr. Achal Singh was working as a joint director in Medical, Health and Family Welfare, and other members of the Provincial Medical Services filed an application seeking voluntary retirement. The high court had allowed their writ petitions and treated the doctors to have retired voluntarily on the dates specified.

The Contentions

Before the apex court, the state contended that there is a scarcity of doctors in the Provincial Health Services in the State of Uttar Pradesh, thus, the state government has not accepted the applications for voluntary retirement. On the other hand, the counsel appearing for the doctors contended, placing reliance on Dinesh Chandra Sangma vs. State of Assam, that the rule provides right to retire and not to seek it and the acceptance of the appointing authority is required only when the disciplinary enquiry is pending and its pendency has been communicated to the employee. It was also contended that once notice of three months is given, the doctor is deemed to have retired and any action of attempting to reject the notice of voluntary retirement after the said date is ineffective in law.

Rule is Clear and Precise

Referring to relevant Rule in this regard, the bench observed: “The explanation attached to Rule 56 makes it clear that the decision of the appointing authority under clause (c) of Rule 56 to retire a Government servant shall be taken if it appears to be in public interest. The explanation is applicable to both the exigencies viz., when Government retires an employee or when an employee seeks voluntary retirement, not only when Government desires to retire an employee in public interest. The Explanation attached to Rule 56 as applicable in the State of Uttar Pradesh is clear and precise.”

Distinguishing Dinesh Chandra Sangma’s case with facts of this case, the bench said: “The rules as applicable in Assam for the purpose of retirement by the Government is contained in F.R.56(b) which require retirement in public interest whereas no such rider exist in F.R.56(c) when employee seek voluntary retirement, whereas rule in the State of Uttar Pradesh both provisions are conjointly read not only the language is different and the explanation makes out the whole difference.”

Justice Mishra remarked: “In India, the Government sponsored Medical Services to cater to the needs of poorest of the poor and have-nots otherwise there is the commercialisation of the charitable medical profession. In other States too, it is seen sometime that when a doctor is transferred from one place to another, the doctor forwards application resigning from the post or seeks voluntary retirement as he does not want to move out and leave his lucrative private practice and joins the duty only when he obtains posting back to the place of his choice. In such a scenario people cannot be deprived of the services of good doctors. In view of the scarcity of the doctors and the unfortunate privatisation and commercialisation of the noble medical profession, for maintaining the efficiency of the State Medical Services, the decision taken by the Government is permissible as per rules and cannot be interfered with.”

Right To Retire Can’t Be Supreme Than Right To Life

It was also observed that the right to retire cannot be supreme than the right to life. The bench observed: “The right under Article 19(1)(g) is subject to the interest of the general public and once service has been joined, the right can only be exercised as per rules and not otherwise. Such conditions of service made in public interest cannot be said to be illegal or arbitrary or taking away the right of liberty. The provisions of the rule in question cannot be said to be against the Constitutional provisions. In case of voluntary retirement, gratuity, pensions, and other dues etc. are payable to the employee in accordance with rules and when there is a requirement of the services of an employee, the appointing authority may exercise its right not to accept the prayer for voluntary retirement. In case all the doctors are permitted to retire, in that situation, there would be a chaos and no doctor would be left in the Government hospitals, which would be against the concept of the welfare state and injurious to public interest.”

Setting aside the high court judgment, the bench observed: “The Government may fill the vacancies if any. But that would not bring doctors of experience at senior level and exodus of doctors cannot be permitted to weaken the services when the public interest requires to serve for the sake of efficient medical profession and fulfil Directive Principles of State Policy once they found statutory expression in the rules cannot be made mockery. When services are required, denial of voluntary retirement is permissible under the Rules applicable in the State of Uttar Pradesh.”

Read the Judgment Here