Holding the round the clock services rendered by the Doctors, Policemen, Sanitary workers, etc. amid the lockdown in high regard, the Madras High Court on Thursday expressed hope that the government will raise their salaries accordingly.
"This Court hopes and expects that respective Governments would appreciate their services by proper increase in their salaries. This Court is of the firm opinion that Doctors, Health workers and Policemen are doing service day and night throughout the years and their salary is not in commensurate with their work. Their work and services are essential for maintaining good health and law and order in the society," the bench of Justices N. Kirubakaran and R. Hemalatha said.
The bench was also concerned about their health conditions, as they are the "forefront warriors" in the fight against the Corona Virus.
"They should be given break sufficiently, which according to the learned Additional Advocate General is being given. They should also be safeguarded against the viral attack and therefore, they should be subjected to regular testing by the Authorities. This Court hails and appreciates the round the clock service rendered by Doctors, Health Workers, Sanitary workers and Policemen in the fight against dangerous pandemic which is threatening the entire humanity," the court further observed.
The remarks were made in a plea seeking "free medical assistance" for all COVID-19 suspects/ affected patients, in both government as well as private hospitals.
The Petitioner Advocate S. Jimraj Milton had submitted,
"By way of increasing large number of isolation beds and other medical facilities, will control the virus spread and recovery of affected persons. Only with collaboration of government and private hospitals can handle the crises. So these medical service should be provided to the public at free of cost at this emergent period."
"Providing free treatment is important for many of the same reasons that free testing is so urgent. First, by ensuring people do not avoid testing (as testing capacity slowly ramps up) because they fear the unmanageable costs of care, it will help urgently address the public health crisis and slow the spread (flattening the curve). Second, doing so will ensure better health outcomes for people who are sick by enabling them to seek care. And third, it will reduce the financial burdens of care during what is rapidly turning into an economic emergency."
The plea inter alia sought constitution of Executive Committees both at the state level as well as district levels, under the Disaster Management Act, to control the spread of COVID-19 based on the guidelines framed by National Centre for Disease Control.
"I filed the present writ petition seeking direction to direct the respondents to constitute a management committee under the National Disaster Management Act, 2005 and to take appropriate action to prevent and control the wide spread of COVID-19 in prescribed preventive measures under the guidance of the World Health Organization and the National Centre for Disease and pass further other orders," the plea states.
Advocate Milton further asserted that the government must be directed to use the services of thousands of volunteers in combating the pandemic. He also raised the following issues:
During hearing, Additional Advocate General PH Aravind Pandian submitted that the government had already taken all necessary steps in every direction.
With regard to the volunteers who are coming forward to help the Administration in these days of crisis, Pandian submitted in case of necessity, services of 45,000 registered volunteers will be utilized.
"though about 45,000 persons including 100 Doctors and 3500 Para Medical Staffs have registered for voluntary service, their services are not being utilized…in case of necessity for utilizing their services, the Administration is always willing to do that," he submitted.
Vis-à-vis the availability of masks and other PPE it was submitted that there are about 37,648 number of PPE, 1,17,000 number of N-95 Masks and 7,75,106 number of three layered masks. As far as testing kits are concerned, 14,000 testing kits are available as on date and the number kept increasing as the supply is regular.
On the aspect of Community kitchens he submitted that Rs.1,000/- had been given to every ration card holder and free ration materials and groceries are also provided. Therefore, nobody was suffering for want of food.
Thus based on assurances given by the government, two weeks time has been given to submit a status report.
Case Title: S Jimraj Milton v. Union of India & Anr.
Case No.: WP No. 7414/2020; WP No. 7456/2020
Quorum: Justices N. Kirubakaran and R. Hemalatha
Appearance: Advocate S. Parthasarathy (for Petitioner); Additional Advocate General PH Aravind Pandian assisted by Special Government Pleader AN Thambidurai and Government Advocate CV Sailendhran (for Respondents)
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