A three-member bench of the Supreme Court upheld the order of NMC and said the employees would have to sit at home till the Delhi High Court’s final verdict. However, their salaries and perks during this period would be protected. The replacement of NMC with MCI threw away 92 employees, for that the SC disposed the contempt matter upheld by HC.
These employees were terminated in accordance to the provisions of the NMC Act that spells out that the employees of the MCI will not be retained in the newly established medical regulator. It was reported that the existing MCI employees were indeed in shock with the provisions of the new Act, it stated that employees of the Medical Council of India shall be immediately terminated as soon as the National Medical Commission comes into effect with 3 months’ severance package.
Section 60 of the said Act deals with the issue of Employees and their termination and it clearly states that Chairman and other Members and employees of the Medical Council of India shall vacate their respective offices and will be entitled to the compensation. Section adds that they will be entitled to payment for pre-termination and for they shall be entitled to compensation of not less than 3 months with other pay and allowances.
A circular by Amit Biswas, Under Secretary, Health Ministry in October said that – “Since the National Medical Commission has come into existence and their smooth functioning is essential, you are advised to vacate the offices with immediate effect.”
The Ministry’s October 5 circular stated that as per the high court order their services will continue as they have been asked only to vacate the building. However, the employees protested the circular calling it a violation of the court’s status quo order.
The employees moved a contempt plea in the HC claiming that the October 5 decision violated the high court’s November 11, 2019 order in the petition challenging Section 60 of the NMC Act which provides for dissolution of the MCI and vacation of the offices by its officials.
At the time of hearing the plea the HC expressed its displeasure with Centre as NMC’s order to shut out MCI officials including removing their biometric of attendance and directing to vacate premises. The HC added that the order of October was an attempt to frustrate on the face of it the court’s decision of November, 2019 to maintain status quo with MCI officials and stayed the hearing till January, 2021.
Court further said that – “We see no good reason why public money is being frittered away in this manner by preventing the petitioners (MCI officials and employees) from discharging their functions.“ The court has put hold on October order and directed to make MCI officials functional and be put back in place.
Challenging the above order of HC NMC moved to SC. Sr. Adv. Vikas Singh appearing for NMC said that – “Though in terms of Section 60 of the Act, there would be a cessation of employment, in deference to the order passed by the High Court, all the concerned writ petitioners were being paid salary and emoluments without fail. However, if the concerned employees were to be permitted to re-enter the offices, it would create a situation of imbalance and disturb the functioning of the National Medical Commission.” To this the employees responded saying that the writ petitioners comprised of peons, drivers, lift operators, clerks and ministerial staff where most of them would not even be doing regular office and it will be highly humiliating for an employee to get salary without putting any work.
Even after all these the SC said modified the operative directions given by the high court in the contempt application and directed the pending writ application to be disposed.