The Supreme Court on Wednesday disposed off the plea filed by Udaipur-based Doctor Arushi Jain, seeking amelioration of doctors and healthcare workers in light of the ongoing suo motu poceedings before the Delhi High Court, allowing petitioners the liberty to approach the High Court.
Before a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, Subhash Reddy & MR Shah, Senior Advocate KV Vishwanathan submitted that the Quarantine period of doctors & health workers which is to be treated as "on-duty" in terms of the last order must not be taken into account prospectively.
"Another issue is that FIRs have been registered against ASHA workers, salaries not being paid either" added Vishwanathan.
At this juncture, top court's bench stated that the Delhi High Court had already taken suo moto cognizance of multiple media reports about the non payment of salaries and that the petitioner may approach the High Court for the ancillary issues.
"In light of the Suo Motu proceedings being taken up by the Delhi High Court, we dispose off the plea with liberty to petitioner to raise issues, if any, before the Delhi HC" ordered the bench.
On July 31, the Centre had informed Supreme Court that Delhi, Punjab, Tripura, Karnataka & Maharashtra - have not made timely payment of salaries to healthcare workers despite the Centre' Notification under National Disaster Management Act which lays down strict penal action for non-payment.
The bench was hearing an IA filed on behalf by United Residents and Doctors Association in a plea filed by Udaipur-based Doctor Arushi Jain seeking suitable accommodation and quarantine facilities for medical workers who are involved in treating of COVID-19 patients.
Senior Advocate KV Vishwanathan had informed the Court during the last hearing that doctors in quarantine were not being paid their dues on time & the Court had asked the Centre to look into this issue.
On July 31, a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, MR Shah & R. Subhash Reddy had told the Centre to do the needful so as to ensure that salaries to frontline healthcare workers battling Covid19 are effectuated timely.
In light of this, the Ministry of Health & Family welfare also put on record an affidavit stating that after consulting with the Department of Personnel & Training, it has decided that the quarantine period of doctors and healthcare workers needs to be treated as on duty.
On June 17, Supreme Court had directed the Centre to pass appropriate directions under the Disaster Management Act to the Chief Secretaries of all States/Union Territories to ensure that directions for payment of salaries to doctors and health workers are complied with. It was listed today to take stock of progress made by states in this regard.
Senior Advocate KV Vishwanathan had urged the Court to pass directions to ensure accountability from the State Governments in the matter of payment of salaries to doctors and healthcare workers.
On June 12, based on the submission of Senior Advocate KV Vishwanathan regarding acquisition of premises in terms of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, for the setting up of proper accommodation, the bench directed the petitioners to hand over their suggestions/concerns to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Further to this, the top court had slammed the government for adopting a lackadaisical approach towards providing accommodation facilities to doctors and health workers at the frontline of Coronavirus crisis. The court also took note of the denial and withholding of their remuneration, directing the Petitioner to convey their suggestions/concerns to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
In her PIL, Dr. Jain had drawn the attention of the Court towards certain disturbing news articles coming from all across the country regarding the "harsh, deplorable and hard living conditions of doctors, nurses and support staff who are in the forefront for treating the patients suffering from Covid-19."
United Residents and Doctors Association was represented by Senior Advocate Mr. KV Viswanathan along with Advocates Ms. Mithu Jain, Mr. Mohit Paul and Mr. Arnav Vidyarthi.