25 March 2022 3:56 PM GMT
The Supreme Court, on Thursday, upheld the order of the Uttarakhand High Court that under the NRHM/NHM Scheme, Ayurvedic Doctors will be entitled to parity in salary with Allopathic Medical Officers and Dental Medical Officers. A Bench comprising Justices Vineet Saran and J.K. Maheshwari refused to entertain the plea challenging the order of the High Court. But, clarified...
The Supreme Court, on Thursday, upheld the order of the Uttarakhand High Court that under the NRHM/NHM Scheme, Ayurvedic Doctors will be entitled to parity in salary with Allopathic Medical Officers and Dental Medical Officers.
A Bench comprising Justices Vineet Saran and J.K. Maheshwari refused to entertain the plea challenging the order of the High Court. But, clarified -
"However, we may only clarify that the respondents who are Ayurvedic doctors will be entitled to be treated at par with Allopathic Medical Officers and Dental Medical Officers under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM/NHM) Scheme."
In 2015, the Union Government had launched the National Rural Health Mission ("NRHM"), which is a sub-mission of the National Health Mission ("NHM"), to provide accessible, affordable and quality health care to the rural population. The respondents were appointed, as Medical Officer, Ayush, on a contractual basis, between 2010 and 2013 under the said Mission. They were appointed in Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK). The Uttarakhand State Government also appointed Allopathic, Dental, Ayurvedic and Homeopathic Medical Officers under the NRHM on contractual basis. There was a considerable disparity in the salary of the Allopathic and Dental Doctors and that of the Ayurvedic and Homeopathic Doctors. The respondents had made representations seeking parity in salary, but in vain. The concerned authorities, while rejecting their representations stated that they are not entitled to parity as they were working on contractual basis. Aggrieved, the respondents had approached the Uttarakhand High Court.
Before the High Court, the Ayurvedic Medical Officers (respondents) contended that as per the advertisement issued by the Government in 2010 there was no difference in salary between the Allopathic Medical Officers and Ayurvedic Medical Officers. It was also argued that the duties discharged by the Ayurvedic and Allopathic Medical Officer were the same.
Decision of the Uttarakhand High Court
The High Court noted that there was no intelligible differentia to consider the Ayurvedic and Homeopathic Medical Officers as a different class from the Allopathic and Dental Medical Officers -
"There is no intelligible differentia so as to distinguish the Ayurvedic and Homeopathic Medical Officers viz-a-viz Allopathic and Dental Medical Officers. There is no rational why the similar situate persons have been discriminated against. The petitioners as well as Allopathic and Dental Medical Officers constitute homogenous class."
It was also observed by the High Court that the nature of degrees and duration of courses were almost the same and therefore, they cannot be classified separately. Citing Bhagwan Dass and Others v. State of Haryana And Ors. (1987) 4 SCC 643, the Court stated that when duties and functions of temporary appointees and employees of the regular cadre in the same Government Department are similar, parity in respect of salary cannot be denied based merely on the nature of their appointment. Reliance was placed by the High Court on the decision rendered by the Apex Court in State of Punjab v. Jagjit Singh And Ors. (2017) 1 SCC 148, wherein it was held that the 'equal pay for equal work' principle is vested in every employee, irrespective of their nature of appointment.
Accordingly, the High Court allowed the petition filed by the respondents granting parity in salary on the ground that the classification made by the State Government was irrational -
"In the instant case, the duties discharged by the petitioners viz-a-viz Allopathic Medical Officers and Dental Medical Officers are of equal sensitivity and quality, even the responsibility and reliability are the same. The classification made by the State Government is irrational."
Also Read : Different Retirement Age For AYUSH & Allopathic Doctors Not Justified : Supreme Court
[Case Status: State of Uttarakhand And Ors. v. Sanjay Singh Chauhan And Ors.]
[Citation : 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 320]
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