While setting aside a Gujarat High Court order, Supreme Court noted that the duties and responsibilities of MBBS and Ayurveda doctors are quite different and Ayurveda doctors are not entitled to equal pay as that of MBBS doctors.
The bench was hearing a batch of petitions filed against a 2012 Gujarat High Court order where the bench held that Ayurveda practitioners working in government hospitals should be treated at par with allopathy doctors and entitled to equal pay.
The bench stated that an alternate system of medicine like Ayurveda has its pride of place in history and should be promoted in the country.
The bench comprising Justice V Ramasubramanian and Justice Pankaj Mithal stated that presently the practitioners of the two streams of medicines cannot be treated at par in terms of salary as the MBBS doctors in government hospitals are also supposed to perform statutory duties like doing post-mortems which their ayurveda counterparts are not allowed to do. It also said that the MBBS doctors are made to attend to hundreds of patients in OPD in hospitals, which is not the case with Ayurveda practitioners.
“Allopathy doctors are required to perform emergency duties and to provide trauma care. By the very nature of the science that they practice and with the advancement of science and modern medical technology, the emergency duty that allopathy doctors are capable of performing and the trauma care that they are capable of providing, cannot be performed by Ayurveda doctors,” the bench noted.
The High Court order of 2012 stated that those possessing a degree of BAMS (Bachelor of Ayurved in Medicine and Surgery) should be treated at par with the doctors holding MBBS degrees.
“It is also not possible for Ayurveda doctors to assist surgeons performing complicated surgeries, while MBBS doctors can assist. We shall not be understood to mean as though one system of medicine is superior to the other. It is not our mandate nor within our competence to assess the relative merits of these two systems of medical sciences. As a matter of fact, we are conscious that the history of Ayurveda dates back to several centuries,” the HC bench added.
It added, “Therefore, we have no doubt that every alternative system of medicine may have its pride of place in history. But today, the practitioners of indigenous systems of medicine do not perform complicated surgical operations. A study of Ayurveda does not authorise them to perform these surgeries.”
The bench stated that a post-mortem or autopsy is not carried out by/in the presence of Ayurveda doctors and even AYUSH doctors are normally notified as competent to perform post-mortem.
“It is common knowledge that during out-patient days (OPD) in general hospitals in cities/towns, MBBS doctors are made to attend to hundreds of patients, which is not the case with Ayurveda doctors,” the bench added.
“Therefore, even while recognising the importance of Ayurveda doctors and the need to promote alternative/indigenous systems of medicine, we cannot be oblivious of the fact that both categories of doctors are certainly not performing equal work to be entitled to equal pay,” the bench stated.