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Denial of pay for the service rendered tantamounts to forced labour which is impermissible: The Supreme Court of India

If an employee is prevented by the employer from performing his duties, the employee cannot be blamed for having not worked, and the principle of “no pay no work” shall not be applicable to such employee. The aforesaid has been followed by the Supreme Court of India in the case of North Delhi Municipal Corporation v. Dr. Ram Naresh Sharma & Ors. [ Civil Appeal No. 4578 of 2021] which was adjudicated upon by a single judge bench comprising Justice Hrishikesh Roy on 3rd August 2021.

The facts of the case are as follows. he Tribunal 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. On 30.06.2016 the NDMC adopted the Government of India order by issuing office order dated 30.06.2016 and enhanced the retirement age to 65 years for the Allopathic doctors working in the NDMC. the ayurvedic doctors were not seen to have been covered by the Ministry’s order dated 31.05.2016. accepted the discrimination argument advanced by the ayurvedic doctors vis-à-vis the allopathic doctors. Accordingly, it was held that the applicants were entitled to same service conditions including the enhanced age of superannuation to 65 years, as made applicable to doctors (GDMOs) working under the CHS, in terms of the order dated 31.05.2016 of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Thus, the employer was directed to allow the ayurvedic doctors to continue in service till the age of 65 years. The same was upheld by the High Court and has been placed before the supreme Court in the form of an appeal. As per this order, only those retiring on or after 27.09.2017 could aspire to serve until 65 years.

The court perused the facts and arguments presented. It relied on several judgments including the Central Electricity Supply Utility of Odisha vs. Dhobei Sahoo and Ors. and Dayanand Chakrawarthy vs. State of Uttar   Pradesh. It was hence of the opinion that “The doctors, both under AYUSH and CHS, render service to patients and on this core aspect, there is nothing to distinguish them. bestowing the benefit of extended age of superannuation to these two categories of doctors. Hence, the order of AYUSH Ministry (F. No. D. (AYUSH)) 24.11.2017 retrospectively applied from 31.05.2016 to all concerned respondent doctors, in the present appeals. All consequences must follow from must Therefore, no rational justification is seen for having different dates for 14019/4/2016-E-I this conclusion. In light of the above discussion, the appellant’s actions in not paying the respondent doctors their due salary and benefits, while their counterparts in CHS system received salary and benefits in full, must be seen as discriminatory. Hence, we have no hesitation in holding that the respondent-doctors are entitled to their full salary arrears and the same is ordered to be disbursed, within 8 weeks from today. 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.”

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