Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

State can stop voluntary retirement of doctors


Mains Paper 2: Polity | Structure, organization & functioning of the Executive & the Judiciary

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Provisions related to freedom of profession

Mains level: Issue of voluntary retirement of doctors leads to decrease in proficiency of Healthcare facilities.


Public Interest over & above Right to Retire

  1. The State can stop government doctors from taking voluntary retirement in public interest, the Supreme Court has ruled.
  2. The fundamental right to retire is not above the right to save lives in a country where government hospitals cater to the poorest.
  3. The concept of public interest can also be invoked by the government when voluntary retirement sought by an employee will be against public interest.
  4. The court said public health was suffering from a scarcity of doctors. Qualified doctors did not join the public service.
  5. Even if they did so, they chose voluntary retirement and went into lucrative private practice.

Public Interest has greater say

  1. The Court said that poor could not be put in peril by a paucity of specialists in government hospitals.
  2. The State governments had an obligation “to make an endeavour under Article 47 to look after the provisions for health and nutrition.”
  3. The doctors, as citizens, had certain fundamental duties under Article 51(A) towards their fellow citizens.
  4. The right to practice a profession under Article 19(1) (g) was subject to the interest of the general public, the court said.

Earlier HC  Judgment overruled

  1. The ruling is based on an appeal by the Uttar Pradesh government against the Allahabad High Court’s decision.
  2. The HC allowed Dr. Achal Singh, who was working as Joint Director, Medical, Health and Family Welfare, in Lucknow, to voluntarily retire.
  3. Though the HC allowed Ms. Singh to retire, it rued the way government doctors were seeking voluntary retirement almost every day in the State.
  4. The HC said the government healthcare sector needed senior doctors as they were “absolutely necessary to run the medical services which are part and parcel of the right to life itself.”
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