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Supreme Court raps Centre
Non-payment of wages to striking doctors
Tribune News Service
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 5
Health Minister Ambumani Ramadoss’ face-off with the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) doctors on anti-reservation agitation and withholding their salary for the strike period today got a severe beating with the Supreme Court reprimanding the government for going back on its promise of not taking any “punitive” action against medicos on their joining duty.

The court, which had taken suo motu initiative to end the 19-day old anti-OBC quota strike on May 29 and government counsel giving a categorical assurance to it that no punitive action would be taken if the doctors joined duty, asked Solicitor-General G E Vahanvati if the concept of “no work, no pay”, invoked by the ministry now was not known to it up to May 28 when the strike was on.

The Health Ministry had issued directions to the AIIMS authorities to hold back the salary of doctors for the 19-day strike period from May 14 to June 3 and also held that the loss of days by junior doctors during the agitation would be considered a shortage for completion of internship and they would not be eligible to sit in PG entrance test on this account.

A Bench of Mr Justice Arijit Pasayat and Mr Justice Lokeshwar Singh Panta, which dealt with the case to end the strike, in an interim order today directed that the shortage of internship period on account of strike and non-payment of salary “will not be taken notice of for the purpose of entrance examination… Please ask your government to be a model employer.”

“When the government came (before the court) on 29 May , it was on its knees and said this and that should be done (to end the strike). The government says something at one point of time and something else at the other,” the court said, pointing out that Additional Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam had given a clear assurance to it that “no punitive action will be taken, otherwise we would have said something on that day… On that day they (government) offered an olive branch, it is not done.”

The court allowed the Solicitor-General time till July 17 to take instructions from the government as to what stand it would take on non-payment of salary and other punitive action against the doctors, while posting for further hearing the AIIMS resident doctors’ application on the issue.





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