SC orders equal pay for AYUSH and allopathy doctors under NRHM scheme

The Supreme Court has upheld a Uttarakhand High Court order stating that both AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy) and allopathy doctors working in government hospitals are entitled to parity in salaries under the Natural Rural Health Mission (NRHM/ NHM) Scheme. The bench upheld the Uttarakhand HC judgment setting aside the state government’s move for different pay to both sets of doctors.

The Uttarakhand government had challenged the HC order in the apex court. The case pertains to the state recruiting both sets of doctors on a contractual basis between 2010 and 2013 under the NRHM scheme. Despite initially starting out on similar salaries, the pay of allopathic and dental doctors kept increasing and the monetary disparity between the two groups heightened.

The state government had argued that the work of allopathic doctors was much more serious and important as compared to their AYUSH colleagues and hence were entitled to a higher increase in pay. The state had argued the same in court. The High Court noted that both kinds of doctors treat patients as per their respective procedures and hence should get equal pay. “There is no intelligible differentia so as to distinguish the Ayurvedic and Homeopathic Medical Officers viz-a-viz allopathic and dental medical officers. There is no rationale why similarly situated persons have been discriminated against. The petitioners, as well as allopathic and dental medical officers, constitute a homogeneous class,” said the HC.

A Supreme Court bench of Justices Vineet Saran and JK Maheshwari was hearing the case.