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Social Justice

State can Stop Voluntary Retirement of Doctors

  • 23 Aug 2018
  • 3 min read

The Supreme Court (SC) has ruled that the State can stop government doctors from taking voluntary retirement in light of public interest.

  • According to the SC,the fundamental right to retire is not above the right to save lives in a country.
    If the voluntary retirement sought by a government doctor will be against public interest,concept of public interest can be cited by the Government to stop his/her voluntary retirement.


  • The ruling is based on an appeal by the Uttar Pradesh government against the Allahabad High Court’s decision in a (State of UP vs. Achal Singh) case to allow a doctor to voluntarily retire with effect from March 31, 2017.
  • Though the High Court allowed the doctor to retire, it rued the way government doctors were seeking voluntary retirement almost every day in the State.
  • The High Court also observed that government healthcare sector is in need of senior doctors as they are “absolutely necessary to run the medical services which are part and parcel of the right to life itself.”

Key Observations

  • The court observed that public health is suffering from scarcity of doctors.
  • Qualified doctors did not join the public service, and even if they did so, they chose voluntary retirement and chose to go back into lucrative private practice.
  • The SC asserted that, the poor could not be put in peril by a paucity of specialists in government hospitals. The State governments had an obligation “to make an endeavour under Article 47 to look after the provisions for health and nutrition.”
  • The court also held that the doctors, as citizens, has certain fundamental duties under Article 51(A) towards their fellow citizens.
  • The right to practise a profession under Article 19(1)(g) is subject to the interest of the general public, i.e it is not absolute.

Article 47 - 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 purposes of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health.

Article 51(A) - Provides 11 fundamental duties for the citizens.

Article 19(1)(g) - All Citizen shall have the right,to practise and profession, or to carry on any occupation,trade or business.

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