J. Venkatesan

After the medicos' strike is over, you say `no work, no pay'

On May 31 government told court no action would be taken against medicosAbsence will not be counted for training completion, exam: Vahanvati

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday criticised the Centre for applying the `no work, no pay' principle and declaring that medicos would not be entitled to salary during the period they were on strike here in May opposing reservation in higher education institutions.

Conveying its displeasure at the government's attitude, a Bench consisting of Justices Arijit Pasayat and Lokeshwar Singh Panta told Solicitor-General G.E. Vahanvati: "You should act like a model employer. When the doctors were on strike you [Government] bent your knees and extended an olive branch. After the strike is over, you say `no work, no pay'." At the time of the court asking the medicos on May 31 to call off all protests, the Government said no action would be taken against them and that it simply wanted them to resume work as patients were suffering. In view of that assurance, no specific order was passed, the court said. "Otherwise we would have passed an order on this point also."

The Bench asked Mr. Vahanvati whether the concept of `no work, no pay' was not known to the government till May 28.

Stating that such a stand was not expected of it, the Bench told Mr. Vahanvati: "Ask your government to be a model employer."

Hearing adjourned

The Bench recorded his submission that the doctors' absence from work would not be taken note of for purposes of completion of training and internship and appearance in the postgraduate examination. As Mr. Vahanvati sought time to take instructions, it adjourned the hearing to July 17.

On June 12 the Union Health Ministry said `no work means no pay' and "in case to any resident doctor and others who neither worked nor applied for leave during this [May 15-31] period, pay does not accrue and therefore pay cannot be disbursed to them."

Assailing this circular, the Resident Doctors Association of the Maulana Azad Medical College and the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences said the Prime Minister gave an assurance on May 28 that no action would be taken against the agitating students, interns and resident doctors by way of break in service, termination, pay deduction and legal notice.