Monday, November 28, 2022

ESMA invoked to counter NIDA strike



With Nagaland In-Service Doctors’ Association (NIDA) firm on continuing with the fourth phase of indefinite protest in demanding enhancement of superannuation from 60 to 62 years for all doctors without any condition or criteria, and after Saturday’s meeting with the government ending in a deadlock, the State government invoked Section 3 (3) of the Nagaland Essential Services (Maintenance) Act, 1978 (ESMA).
The home department, in continuation with its July 17, 2022, invoked ESMA for six months. The said order shall stand inclusive of all sections and clauses as laid down in the July 17 order, a DIPR report stated.
The order primarily states that no person employed in any essential service to which the order relates shall go or remain on strike. Any strike declared or commenced whether before or after the issue of the order, by persons employed in any such service shall be illegal. As per the July 17 order, no doctor employed/deployed in any government health unit/facility should go for agitation or cessation of work and any such act would be considered illegal.
Such doctors against whom action was taken would also be liable to disciplinary action under the relevant service/conduct rules or contractual conditions as applicable.
Notwithstanding anything contained in CrPC, any police officer could arrest without warrant any such doctor, who was reasonably suspected of having committed the illegal act of ceasing work/going on strike under Section 8 of the Nagaland Essential Services (Maintenance) Act, 1978, the order ruled.
Under Sec 4 of the Act, any doctor going on cessation of work or strike would be punished on conviction with imprisonment for a term that might extend up to one year, or with fine that could extend up to Rs 1,000 or with both.
NIDA protest continues
Meanwhile, despite the state government’s appeal to call off the ongoing indefinite agitation, taking note of the hardships faced by the public and also in view of the visit of the President of India Droupadi Murmu, NIDA was firm on continuing with the protest.
The decision to continue with the agitation comes as the meeting between the state government and NIDA held on Saturday ended in a deadlock.
The meeting held at the chief secretary’s conference hall was attended by senior government officials headed by chief secretary J Alam and NIDA members led by its president Dr. Bernard Amer.
According to NIDA media cell, the meeting was inconclusive and ended in a deadlock. NIDA therefore, directed all its units to strictly abide by the October 25 notification until further notice. At the meeting, NIDA said the executive members explained their demand of 62 years superannuation without any criteria/condition and to remove “re-employment” from the July 15, 2022 government notification.
NIDA launched its fourth phase of indefinite agitation on October 28 after its 48-hour deadline expired midnight of October 27.
Govt asks NIDA to wait for committee report
The State government on Saturday informed that following NIDA’s August 1, 2022 representation, a committee was constituted, headed by Health and Family Welfare secretary, to look into the matter vide notification dated September 13, 2022.
According to DIPR, the government had asked NIDA to call off agitation and give time to the committee to complete its deliberations and to wait for the outcome and its report.
However, while the committee was in the process of initiating its work, it said NIDA on October 25, 2022 submitted a representation calling for indefinite strike with effect from October 28, 2022.
Taking note of this, the government immediately responded by intimating the principal director H&FW with a copy to NIDA president with a request not to resort to any kind of disruptive agitation/strike which may compel the government to invoke the provisions of the Nagaland Essential Services (Maintenance) Act 1978 and the Nagaland Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules 1967.
It said the government also requested NIDA and its members not to go on strike as such kind of actions would invite Rule 25 of the Nagaland Government Servants Conduct Rules 1968, which prohibits Government Servants from participating in any form of strike or in any way abet any form of strike.
Further, as per the Fundamental Rule 17 (1) an officer who is absent from duty without any authority shall not be entitled to any pay and allowances during the period of such absence. Attention in this regard was also invited to P&AR OM No.AR-13/5/89 dated 05/09/1994. Therefore, it said that any form of agitation/strike/violation called by any associations/body shall be deemed as illegal act which was punishable under the provision of law.

Reiterates July 15 notification: Further, the state government also reiterated its July 15 notification for re-employment of medical doctors up to 62 years of age.
The state government reminded that on completion of 35 years of service or on attainment of superannuation age of 60 years, a medical doctor can opt for further utilization of their services by way of discharging clinical duties such as consultant/senior consultant/specialist consultant/ specialist in Government hospitals/clinics.
Further, doctors are allowed to serve in the Medical College Kohima till the age of 65 years.
It said the re-employment of medical doctors was justified in all manners as they would be available across the state wherever there is shortage of doctors.
Moreover, in terms of salaries and wages the reemployed doctors shall enjoy all financial benefits as granted during his/her erstwhile service, it added.
However, it said that administrative posts were excluded from this dispensation as there would be no shortage of officers in the administrative post such as in the directorate as the posts vacated due to promotion or retirement of the incumbent would be duly filled by promotions from the immediate junior level.

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