NEW DELHI: The Centre on Friday told the Supreme Court five states, including Delhi, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tripura and Karnataka, have not complied with the court’s order to pay salaries to doctors and healthcare workers (HCWs) who are at the frontlines of the battle against the coronavirus.
A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan, which was hearing a doctor’s petition on difficulties faced by HCWs, ordered the states to release salaries to its HCWs within a week and fixed August 10 to hear the matter. According to the government’s affidavit, the five non-compliant states were issued three reminders on the top court’s order.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta also told the bench that these states have failed to comply with its orders on timely payment of salaries. However, the court reminded the solicitor that the central government was not powerless in such a situation.
“You are not helpless. You have to see that the order is followed. You have the power under the DM Act,” the bench told Mehta. In a separate application by United Residents and Doctors’ Association, the court was also informed that the management of some hospitals and institutes are treating mandatory quarantine of doctors as a period of leave.
On deduction of salaries, the court noted: “How can their salaries be cut for going on compulsory quarantine after the duty?” Mehta accepted this point, said it needed no further argument and promised to look into it. “We will see to it that it (quarantine period) is included as part of the duty.” Mehta acknowledged that hospitals cannot be allowed to deduct salaries of doctors for their period in quarantine and assured to get back with instructions on this. The SC had on June 17 ordered states to pay salaries to all HCWs and said non-compliance will be treated as a criminal offence under the Disaster Management Act.