NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has said a government employee cannot seek voluntary retirement as a matter of right and the government can frame rules to deny pleas for quitting prematurely in larger public interest.
A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and S Abdul Nazeer upheld Uttar Pradesh government's decision to reject the request for voluntary retirement of four senior doctors of the rank of joint directors and senior consultants and said the decision was justified due to severe shortage of doctors in the state. It said the concept of public interest could be invoked by the government when voluntary retirement was sought by an employee.
"The government's decision caters to the needs of human life and carries the objective of public interest. The doctors 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 it to make an endeavour to look after the provisions for health and nutrition. In case all the doctors are permitted to retire, in that situation, there would be chaos and no doctor would be left in government hospitals, which would be against the concept of the welfare state and injurious to public interest," the bench said.
The court set aside the verdict directing the state to grant voluntary retirement to the doctors. The prayer for voluntary retirement was rejected by the state on the ground of lack of specialised doctors in government hospitals.
"The concept of public interest can also be invoked by the government when voluntary retirement sought by an employee would be against public interest. The provisions cannot be said to be violative of any of the rights. There is already paucity of doctors as observed by the HC, the system cannot be left without competent senior persons and particularly, the HC has itself observed that doctors are not attracted to join service and there is an existing scarcity of doctors. Poorest of the poor obtain treatment at government hospitals. They cannot be put at peril," the bench said.