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Public interest can precede govt doctors’ right to retire at will: SC

Four doctors employed in various capacities with the Uttar Pradesh medical services department had sought voluntary retirement but the government kept their applications pending.

india Updated: Aug 22, 2018 23:38 IST
Ashok Bagriya
Ashok Bagriya
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Government doctors,voluntary retirement,Doctors
A view of the Supreme Court in New Delhi.(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

Government doctors’ right to voluntary retirement is not absolute and can be curtailed in public interest, the Supreme Court has ruled.

A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and S Abdul Nazeer delivered the judgment on Tuesday on an appeal filed by the Uttar Pradesh government against a high court order directing it to relieve four doctors who had sought voluntary retirement.

Allowing the appeal, the top court said, “ In view of the scarcity of 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 (denying permission to retire) is permissible as per rules and cannot be interfered with.”

The order said the concept of “public interest” could be invoked by the government “when voluntary retirement sought by an employee would be against the public interest. The provisions cannot be said to be violative of any of the rights.”

Four doctors employed in various capacities with the Uttar Pradesh medical services department had sought voluntary retirement but the government kept their applications pending. The doctors then approached the Allahabad High Court, which directed the state to relieve them. The state, however, moved the top court against the order.

The court ruled that in case all doctors were permitted to retire, “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.”

It continued: “In the instant case, where the rights of the public are involved in obtaining treatment, the State Government has taken a decision as per Explanations to decline the prayer for voluntary retirement considering the public interest. It cannot be said that State has committed any illegality or its decision suffers from any vice of arbitrariness.“

The judgment also deprecated the practice by doctors to seek voluntary retirement when they are transferred. “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.”

First Published: Aug 22, 2018 23:36 IST