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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Delhi HC dismisses plea seeking ‘risk and hardship’ allowance to COVID-19 health workers

The plea sought a direction to the Centre and the Delhi government to introduce ‘risk and hardship’ allowance for the health workers, and incentives in form of bonus.

Written by Pritam Pal Singh | New Delhi | Updated: May 5, 2020 7:26:01 pm
coronavirus cases india, delhi covid 19, delhi coronavirus update,covid 19 cases, delhi high court, doctors covid 19 The plea also sought a supply of the basic Personal Protection Equipments (PPE) to all health workers. (File/Express Photo by Prashant Nadkar)

The Delhi High Court Tuesday dismissed a plea seeking a “risk and hardship” allowance to health workers, serving on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

A bench of Justices Manmohan and Sanjeev Narula, however, acknowledged that “undoubtedly, the health workers are doing commendable job under very odd and difficult circumstances”.

“…but it is settled law that the Constitution does not permit the court to direct or advise the executive in matters of policy or to sermonize qua any matter which under the Constitution lies within the sphere of legislature or executive.

“If there is a law, the Court can certainly enforce it; but Court cannot create a law or policy and seek to enforce it…,” the bench said.

The court was hearing a plea by SK Rout, who apart from seeking a direction to the Central government and the Delhi government to introduce ‘risk and hardship’ allowance for the health workers, has also sought incentives in form of bonus, additional salary to them.

The plea sought an order to “identify such health workers who are above the age of 48 years with health conditions such as diabetic etc and direct not to deploy them in any duty which comes in direct or indirect contacts with COVID-19 patients”.

It further sought a supply of the basic Personal Protection Equipments (PPE) to all health workers.

The plea stated that the benefit of hazard or risk pay, which is extended to officers in high-active field areas such as country’s borders or counter-insurgency operations, in accordance with the Seventh Central Pay Commission should be extended to health workers who are dealing with COVID-19 patients.

To which, the bench observed, “In our opinion,… the Seventh Central Pay Commission Report does not specifically recommend payment of hazard or risk pay to health workers deployed on COVID-19 duty.”

“There is no averment in the writ petition with regard to shortage of PPE kits or a complaint/grievance by any health worker with regard to non-payment of salaries.

“It is settled law that newspapers are second-hand, secondary evidence and no court can grant relief only on the basis of what is published therein,” it added.

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