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Gauhati High Court

Guwahati: The Gauhati High Court has ruled that there should be no discrimination in salary payments of contractual Ayurvedic and Allopathic doctors under the National Health Mission, Assam.

The Court, during a recent hearing, ordered the Assam government to pay and release the salaries of the contractual Ayurvedic doctors at par with the contractual Allopathic medical officers of the National Health Mission (NHM), Assam, with retrospective effect from the filing of a writ petition on December 18, 2018.

The High Court bench, before passing the order, took into account the orders of the Uttarakhand High Court and the Supreme Court, upholding the same to conclude that Ayurvedic doctors have to be treated on a par with Allopathic medical officers and dental medical officers under the NHM.

“A perusal of the order of the Division Bench of the Uttarakhand High Court passed in WP No.484/2014 (S/B) and the order dated 24.03.2022 passed by the Apex Court in Special Leave to Appeal (C) No.33645/2018 show that Ayurvedic doctors would have to be treated at par with the Allopathic Medical Officers and Dental Medical Officers under the NHM and as such, there cannot be any discrimination in the payment of salary/wages between the two,” the Court held.

The Ayurvedic Doctors’ Association had moved the High Court by way of filing a plea that while NHM had engaged Allopathic and Ayurvedic doctors under NHM on a contractual basis, the fixed pay paid to the Allopathic doctors is higher than that given to the Ayurvedic doctors.

The counsel representing the petitioners (Ayurvedic doctors) submitted that as the job responsibility of the medical officers (Ayurvedic) under NHM is identical to that of the job responsibility of the medical officers (Allopathic), the fixed pay given to the medical officers (Ayurvedic) would have to be the same as that given to the allopathic doctors, as that would align with the doctrine of equal pay for equal work.

The petitioners’ counsel, in support of his submission that Allopathic and Ayurvedic doctors are having identical responsibilities and duties, has referred to the terms of reference for medical officers (Ayurvedic) and the terms of reference for medical officers (MBBS).

He further submitted that concerning doctors employed by the state government regularly, be it, Allopathic doctors or Ayurvedic doctors, the same pay scale is being given to them.

“As such, there can be no justification for giving different fixed pay to Ayurvedic doctors and Allopathic doctors, who are engaged on a contract basis under the NHM,” the petitioners’ counsel submitted.

The secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy, had on February 27, 2018, issued to all the chief secretaries of the states/ UTs of India, requesting appropriate steps be taken to enhance the salary of AYUSH doctors to be on a par with their Allopathic counterparts.

The petitioner’s counsel also relied upon the judgment of the division bench of the High Court of Uttarakhand, wherein the state government of Uttarakhand has been directed to pay the salary of AYUSH doctors on a par with the Allopathic and dental doctors

The admitted fact is that the Allopathic doctors and Ayurvedic doctors, who are working in the health department under the Government of Assam, are being given the same pay scale.

However, for the Allopathic doctors working under the NHM, Assam on a contract basis, they are being paid a fixed salary of Rs 50,000 per month, while the Ayurvedic doctors are being paid a fixed salary of Rs 30,500, with some increments.

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