New Delhi, Aug 3 (IANS): The Supreme Court on Tuesday said the doctors, both under Ayush and the central health services (CHS), render service to patients and on this core aspect, there is nothing to distinguish between them as it held that ayurvedic doctors are also entitled to the benefit of enhanced superannuation age of 65 years (raised from 60 years), at par with allopathic doctors.
The North Delhi Municipal Corporation had argued before the top court that classification of Ayush doctors and doctors under the CHS in different categories is reasonable and permissible in law.
A bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Hrishikesh Roy said: "This however does not appeal to us and we are inclined to agree with the findings of the Tribunal and the Delhi High Court that the classification is discriminatory and unreasonable since doctors under both segments are performing the same function of treating and healing their patients."
It emphasised 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," said the bench, in its 19-page judgment.
It added that such unreasonable classification and discrimination based on it would surely be inconsistent with Article 14 of the Constitution.
The bench said the municipal corporation not paying the ayurvedic doctors their salary and benefits, while their counterparts in CHS received salary and benefits in full, "must be seen as discrimination".
It emphasised that 'no work should go unpaid' should be the appropriate doctrine to be followed in these cases where the service rendered by the ayurvedic doctors have been productive both for the patients and also the employer.
The top court said they must be paid their lawful remuneration, arrears and current salary, as the case may be. "The state cannot be allowed 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," it said.
It directed that doctors are entitled to their full salary arrears and the same is ordered to be disbursed, within 8 weeks from Tuesday, and any late payment will carry 6 per cent interest from the date of this order until the date of payment.
The top court judgment came on an appeal by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation against a Delhi High Court judgment which had upheld a Central Administrative Tribunal order holding that applicants, who were ayurvedic doctors under Ayush, are also entitled to the benefit of enhanced superannuation age of 65 years, like allopathic doctors.