Centre to SC: Quarantine Period of Doctors & Health Workers to be treated as “On Duty”

The National Disaster Management Act lays down a strict penal action for the non payment of salaries to healthcare workers. Delhi, Punjab, Tripura, Karnataka & Maharashtra have not timely paid the salaries despite the Centre’s notification on National Disaster Management Act, The Supreme court was informed about the same. The state of Tripura on 10th August 2020 notified that the state have made the payment of the dues related to the healthcare worker’s salary on time.

The Supreme Court on 17th June 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 on 10th August 2020 to take stock of progress made by states in this regard.

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 in the Supreme Court stating that Quarantine Period of doctors and health workers needs to be treated as on duty and not on leave.

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. During the hearing held on 31.07.2020 in the Hon’ble Supreme Court in WP(C) No. 759/2020, Dr. Arushi Jain V. UOI & Ors, it was pointed out that in some cases doctors and health workers who are quarantined, their period of quarantine is being treated as on leave. The matter has since been considered by this Ministry in consultation with the DoPT and it has decided that the quarantine period of doctors and health workers needs to be treated as on duty. All concerned may accordingly be directed to ensure that quarantine period of Doctors and health workers for their duties related to COVID19 shall be treated as on duty only.

In her PIL, Dr. Arushi 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.

Proceeding with this, the Supreme 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.