The Supreme Court on Friday told the Centre that it was not enough to have issued directions to states to pay salaries to doctors and health workers involved in the fight against Covid-19, and it should also ensure compliance.
“You are not helpless. You have to see to it that your order is implemented. You got power under DM Act. You can take steps also,” Justice M R Shah, sharing a bench with Justices Ashok Bhushan and R Subhash Reddy, told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.
The remarks came as Mehta told the bench that the Centre had issued directions on June 18 to all states but had not received compliance report from the NCT of Delhi, Punjab, Maharashtra, Tripura and Karnataka.
The solicitor general referred to an affidavit filed by the Union Health Ministry in this regard.
The Supreme Court had on June 17 asked the government to issue appropriate orders to ensure timely payment of salaries to doctors and health workers
The affidavit of the Health Ministry said that accordingly, orders were issued under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, on June 18 to all the concerned secretaries of health departments “inter-alia directing them to release salaries of doctors and health workers doing COVID-I9 related duty, on time”.
Subsequently, an application was filed in the court highlighting instances of non-payment of remuneration to doctors and health workers in the NCT of Delhi and the four states.
Though reminders were sent to them, “no report with respect to the compliance of the order dated 17.06.2020 was received”, the affidavit said, adding that another set of reminders had been sent to them to send the reports on “urgent basis”.
Taking note, the bench recorded in its order, “learned Solicitor General submits that an order has been passed on 18.06.2020 by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare directing for payment of salaries of doctors and health workers during the period of Covid-19 on time. He submits that five States i.e. Delhi, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tripura and Karnataka have not paid the salaries to the doctors and health workers on time to the full satisfaction. He submits that appropriate steps in this regard shall be taken by the Central Government to ensure that salaries of doctors and health workers is released. He prays for and is granted a week’s time.”
The court was hearing a PIL by Delhi-based Dr Arushi Jain on problems being faced by doctors and health workers on the Covid front.
The bench also asked the SG to look into complaints that some hospitals were counting the quarantine period of doctors and health workers as period of leave.
Mehta said the period of quarantine cannot be treated as leave and agreed to look into it.
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