With Nagaland In-Service Doctors’ Association (NIDA) and the state government at loggerheads over NIDA’s demand for increasing the superannuation age of doctors from 60 to 62, the state government has warned that indefinite strike would tantamount to violating provisions of the Nagaland Essential Service (Maintenance) Act, 1978 (NESMA) and invite penal action as the agitation was likely to cause severe disruption to medical care/public health services and thereby endanger life, health and security of the people.
Even as the strike entered the seventh day on Thursday, with no resolution, NIDA was firm on its decision to continue the agitation, but at the same time was ready to sit across the table with the State government to reach a solution that was acceptable to all.
Taking note of NIDA calling upon its members to proceed on an indefinite strike from October 28 in pursuance of its demands for increase the superannuation age, the government, however, said that resorting to illegal means of agitations would be viewed seriously and, besides deduction of salary on the principal of “no work no pay”, the participants would also be liable to disciplinary action for grave violation of conduct rules and also be liable for appropriate action under provision of law.
In a statement issued through DIPR, the government said maintenance of public health and sanitation, including hospitals and dispensaries, were essential services under ESMA. It also invited attention to Rule 25 of the Nagaland Government Servants Conduct Rules, 1968 that prohibited government servants from participating in any form of strike or abet any form of strike in any way.
It pointed out that there was no statutory provision empowering the employees to go on strike, adding that Supreme Court too had also in several judgments agreed that going on strike was a grave misconduct under the conduct rules and should be dealt with it in accordance with law.
Further, as per Fundamental Rule 17(1), an officer who was absent from duty without any authority would not be entitled to any pay and allowances during the period of such absence, the government pointed out, while also drawing the attention of the doctors to P&AR office memorandum of September 5, 1994.
In light of the above, the health & family welfare principal director would issue directive to all chief medical officers (CMOs), medical superintendents (MS) and controlling officers in the district/sub-district hospitals not to go on agitation in any form/manner.
Further, deputy commissioners of the respective districts would also ensure that the CMOs, MS and their subordinate officers follow the government directive and, in any case of any violation, submit reports on the matter to the government through commissioner forthwith for further action.
NMA calls for peaceful resolution
Naga Mothers’ Association (NMA) has appealed for a peaceful resolution, based on justice, of the ongoing Nagaland In-Service Doctors Association (NIDA) agitation which has brought healthcare delivery system to a critical stage in the State.
In a press note, Naga Mothers’ Association said it had sought the intervention and attention of Nagaland governor even before the start of the agitation.
NMA also urged upon the state government to take matters seriously and check data which revealed the acute shortage of doctors as per the Indian Health Standard (IHS).
As per said that the data of neighbouring states, NMA said it indicated that most have implemented the raise superannuation age without any conditions.
Despite Nagaland having an alliance with the BJP, NMA said it was interesting to note that the declaration of the Prime Minister was being “swept under the carpet.”
NMA said it was hopeful that the issue is resolved before the visit of the Prime Minister, who had declared the enhancement of superannuation age of doctors in 2016, recognising the shortage of doctors and necessity of retaining senior doctors in the country.
NMA said that thought it was a State subject, it was an embarrassment to listen to vague excuses by leaders on such a critical issue of better healthcare.