SC Direct Govts To Ensure Timely Payment Of Salaries To Healthcare Workers: COVID-19

The Supreme Court on Wednesday has directed both State and Central Governments to ensure payment of salaries to doctors and healthcare workers. The Central Government has been asked to issue compliance order for the same by tomorrow. The Court has also directed Directorate of health to ensure that Quarantine facilities are provided to Doctors and healthcare workers who are not at high risk, by tomorrow. 

A three-judge bench of Justice Ashok Bhushan, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M.R. Shah issued the order while hearing plea seeking better accommodation and quarantine facilities for doctors and healthcare workers who are working to combat COVID-19.

During the hearing Adv K V Vishwanathan appearing on behalf of the petitioner has submitted that the salaries are not being paid regularly to healthcare workers and there are no details of accommodation for their quarantine. The doctors who are treating COVID19 are not quarantined unless they are under high risk category. 

The Bench questioned Solicitor General Mehta as to why the government has done away with compulsory quarantine for doctors. Mehta responded by stating that the May 15 circular deals with categories of healthcare workers. 

The Bench, went on to clarify that there can be no differentiation when it comes to healthcare workers, and asked Centre to issue direction to states for payment of salaries and necessary quarantine facilities to doctors and health worker treating COVID patients.

The Court will now hear the matter after 4 weeks.

In the last hearing before the Apex Court, the Government of India had filed the counter affidavit before the Supreme Court on the Writ Petition filed for separate residential facilities for doctors treating COVID19 patients.

In the Central Government’s reply, it was mentioned that “Large number of make-shift hospitals will have to be set up expecting a patient surge”.

It was submitted by GOI before the Supreme Court that “number of cases of COVID  are constantly increasing and at some point of time in near future, apart from existing hospitals, large number of temporary make-shift hospitals will have to be created in order to accommodate COVID 19 patients requiring admission, medical care and treatment. To successfully create an optimum infrastructure to provide best medical care to COVID patients, Centre will adequately address human resource issue for this envisaged surge capacity scenario.Hence conserving health care work force is the need of the hour in order to cater to the anticipated patient load in the hour of distress”.

The Supreme Court three-judge bench of Justice Ashok Bhushan, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M.R. Shah had given time to the petitioner to respond to the Government’s reply by the next date of hearing. 

The PIL was filed by Dr Arushi Jain, through Advocates Mithu Jain, and Arjun Syal seeking separate residential facilities, closer to hospitals, for doctors treating patients affected by the novel Coronavirus. The Supreme Court had asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to seek instructions on whether accommodation close to hospitals can be made for doctors handling COVID-19 cases.

By :- Shrija Chauhan of LCD