Coronavirus: SC orders Centre to ensure timely salaries for healthcare-workers
The Supreme Court on Friday ordered Centre to ensure healthcare workers, leading the battle against coronavirus, are paid salaries on time, something which it had ordered earlier as well. Today, during the hearing, the Centre apprised the top court that four states hadn't released salaries. On knowing this, SC said it was the federal government's job to ensure directions are implemented. Here's more.
On hearing doctors' woes, SC said "soldiers can't remain dissatisfied"
While COVID-19 impacted India, medical professionals approached SC seeking salaries, pointing out that despite putting their lives on the line, they were mistreated. Taking strong notice, the court had commented, "We cannot have dissatisfied soldiers (doctors) in the COVID-19 war." The government was asked to walk an "extra mile." Thereafter, Centre announced that not paying salaries was an offense under the Disaster Management Act.
Here's what the apex court had said last month
"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 offense under the Disaster Management Act read with IPC," the court had said.
States haven't paid salaries, says Centre; SC gives sharp retort
Now, in today's hearing, Centre said Delhi, Punjab, Maharashtra, Tripura, and Karnataka, are yet to release timely salaries, despite directions from the apex court. On this, SC said Centre is not "entirely helpless." "You have to ensure that your order is implemented. You have got the power under the Disaster Management Act. You can take steps also," the bench told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.
Notably, petitioner was dissatisfied with how Centre classified healthcare workers
The court also discussed the mandatory quarantine period for healthcare workers after petitioner Dr. Arushi Jain, being represented by lawyer KV Vishwanathan, told that the Centre doesn't think quarantine is mandatory for doctors. Dr. Jain also said that Centre's June 18 classification on low and high risk infections lacked rationale, as no one can determine who is more vulnerable.
Centre accepted that quarantine period mustn't be seen as leave
Separately, United Resident Doctors Association (URDA), through their advocates Mithu Jain, Mohit Paul, and Arnav Vidyarthi, also informed the bench that quarantine period was being treated as leave. Conceding that this shouldn't be the case, Mehta assured to look into the matter. The matter will be heard again on August 10, by a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy, and MR Shah.