The Supreme Court Wednesday asked the Centre to direct states and Union Territories to ensure that doctors and health workers are not denied their salary, and to make non-payment of the same a punishable offence.
“The Central Government shall issue appropriate direction to the Chief Secretary of the States/Union Territories to ensure that the orders are faithfully complied with, violation of which may be treated as an offence under the Disaster Management Act read with the Indian Penal Code”, a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, S K Kaul and M R Shah said.
The Centre gave an undertaking to issue the necessary orders the very next day.
Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, said that in so far as the payment of salary to the health workers and doctors are concerned, appropriate orders shall be issued by the Central Government in exercise of power under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and it will be communicated to all the State Governments and Union Territories for compliance.
The court was hearing a PIL by one Arushi Jain, a doctor.
Appearing for the petitioner, senior Advocate K V Vishwanathan sought the court’s intervention, saying that doctors and health workers are not receiving their salaries regularly.
He further submitted that with regard to quarantine, there are no details of appropriate accommodation and that doctors or health workers, who are directly looking after patients in Covid-19 wards are not given the quarantine facility as per guidelines unless they are covered by high-risk exposure. He also contended that doctors who deal with Covid-19 patients, even with protective kits, need quarantine facility to protect themselves and their families.
On this, Mehta said that doctors and health workers directly looking after Covid patients are not denied quarantine. He added that looking to the requirement of doctors and health workers to manage the hospital, the government will issue necessary orders “by tomorrow”.
On June 12, the top court had observed, “In war, you do not make soldiers unhappy. Travel extra mile and channel some extra money to address their grievances”.
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