Supreme Court: Right to Life greater than someone’s Right to Retire!

In a recent judgement, the Hon’ble Apex Court promulgated that The Right to Life of the public at large holds more weightage than a Right to Retire voluntarily which is enshrined in Part-III . The Hon’ble Supreme Court stated that it is obligatory upon the state government to provide health and nutrition to the citizens. The number of doctors is much smaller than the number given in the MCI report. The doctors are being posted, in spite of scarcity, on the administrative posts that causes wastage of specialised talent. An employee is not required to give reason while giving a notice for voluntary retirement and in any such event, such reasons are not justiciable. It is a prerogative of the employee to seek voluntary retirement. The right of the employee to retire voluntarily corresponds with the right of the State Government to retire him in the case of deficiency in services. The general public has the right to obtain treatment from super skilled specialists, not second rates. Poorest of the poor obtain treatment at the Government hospitals. They cannot be put in peril. Therefore, although doctors appointed by the Govt. may have a Right to Retire under the Part III of the constitution but still the public interest at large holds more value.

Chapter IV of the Constitution contains the Directive Principles of State Policy.

According to Article 47Duty of the State to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health.

The State shall regard the raising of the level of nutrition and the standard of living of its people and the improvement of public health as among its primary duties and, in particular, the State shall endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption except for medicinal purpose of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health.

In State of Uttar Pradesh and others v. Achal Singh, the Hon’ble Supreme court of India observed:

(Para 34) “The concept of public interest can also 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.”

(Para 34) “Poorest of the poor obtain treatment at the Government hospitals. They cannot be put at the peril, even when certain doctors are posted against the administrative posts.”

(Para 35) “The decision of the Government cater to the needs of the human life and carry the objectives of public interest. The respondents are claiming the right to retire under Part III of the Constitution such right cannot be supreme than right to life. It has to be interpreted along with the rights of the State Government in Part IV of the Constitution as it is obligatory upon the State Government to make an endeavour under Article 47 to look after the provisions for health and nutrition. The fundamental duties itself are enshrined under Article 51(A) which require observance. The right under Article 19(1)(g) is subject to the interest of the general public and once service has been joined, the right can only be exercised as per rules and not otherwise. Such conditions of service made in public interest cannot be said to be illegal or arbitrary or taking away the right of liberty.”

(Para 35) “In case of voluntary retirement, gratuity, pensions, and other dues etc. are payable to the employee in accordance with rules and when there is a requirement of the services of an employee, the appointing authority may exercise its right not to accept the prayer for voluntary retirement. In case all the doctors are permitted to retire, in that situation, 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.”

(Para 38) “Under Article 47 it is the duty of the State to improve the public health, which is a primary duty under the Directive Principles of the State Policy and the statutory expression which may be enforced. When we consider Article 51A containing Fundamental Duties, it is a duty of every citizen under Article 51A(g) to have compassion for living creatures and to have humanism is also contemplated under Article 51A(h) and to strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavours and achievement. It cannot be done by depriving poorest of the poor essential medical services and to leave them at the mercy of doctors.”

-Tushar Kaushik

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *