Covid warriors fighting sans salary: SC for timely payment

KT NEWS SERVICE. Dated: 8/1/2020 12:44:19 AM

NEW DELHI, July 31: What a plight of the doctors and other healthcare workers risking their lives in their fight against the deadly Corona virus, but denied their salaries on time.
The Opposition ruled Maharashtra and Punjab as also the BJP-ruled Karnataka and Tripura were identified by the Centre in the Supreme Court on Friday for not following its directives on the timely payment of the salaries.
A Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and M R Shah asked the Centre to once again issue the necessary directions to release the salaries of doctors and the frontline healthcare workers engaged in the Covid-19 duty and fixed further hearing on August 10. It also sought a clarification from the Centre on treating compulsory quarantine period of healthcare workers as leave and deduction of their salaries for the same period.
"If the states are not complying with the directions and orders of the Central government, you are not 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, appearing for the Centre.
Mehta said that following the top court's directions on June 17, necessary orders were issued on June 18 to all the states, with regard to payment of salaries to the healthcare workers. On June 17, the Court had directed the Centre to issue orders within 24 hours to all states and Union Territories for payment of salaries to doctors and healthcare workers and provide them suitable quarantine facilities.
The Court was hearing a plea of Dr Arushi Jain, a private doctor, alleging that the frontline healthcare workers engaged in the fight against Covid-19 were not getting salary or their wages were cut and delayed. She had also questioned the Centre's May 15 decision that the 14-day quarantine was not mandatory for the doctors. Her senior advocate K V Vishwanathan tore apart the Centre's June 18 order for no rationale in classification of low and high risk.
The top court also took note of an application filed by the United Resident Doctors Association (URDA) through advocates Mithu Jain, Mohit Paul and Arnav Vidyarthi that salaries of doctors are being deducted for the period of compulsory quarantine, treating it as leave period. The Solicitor General promised to take necessary instructions on the issue, but affirmed that "the said period can't be treated as leave."



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