Madhya Pradesh High Court: The Division Bench of Mohammad Rafiq, CJ. and Vijay Kumar Shukla, J., decided on a petition which related to the dispute pertaining to the nurses working in different Government Hospitals/Dispensaries/CHCs/PHCs of the State, who had proceeded on strike on 14-06-2021. It was prayed that the strike by nurses in the State called by the respondent 4 Joint Forum Nursing Association, be declared illegal.

Mr D.K.Upadhyay, counsel for the petitioner submitted that approximately 50000 Nurses of the State are on strike, which was causing huge inconvenience to the people of the State.

Mr Ashish Anand Barnard, Additional Advocate General submitted that this Court earlier on 25-07-2018 had already declared the strike by the Nurses of the State, illegal. In the present case, the State Government had issued a notification dated 28-06-2021 declaring the services rendered by the Doctors, Nurses and other health workers, as essential service by invoking Section 4(1) of the Essential Services Maintenance Act and therefore, the ongoing strike by the respondent should be declared illegal.

Mr Atul Choudhary, counsel appearing for the Joint Forum Nursing Association submitted that despite long standing demands of the Nurses in State, the State Government has not taken any steps for redressal of their grievances, except, of course, in respect of changing nomenclature of their designation.

The Court declared the strike by the nurses in the State as illegal and condemned their action especially because such a call has been given at a time when the country has still not been able to come out of the ill effects of the second wave of COVID-19. The Court further directed that t the respondent Nursing Association shall immediately call off their strike and resume their duties by the next day itself. It was assured that the respondent/State Government shall soon thereafter notify constitution of a Committee headed by the Additional Chief Secretary, Health with the Principal Secretary, Finance Department and Director, Health Services as its members. The Committee shall invite the representatives of the Nursing Association for negotiations and submit its report to the State Government positively within a period of two months and shall pass appropriate order within a month thereafter. It was further stated that if the Association of Nurses despite assurance fails to resume their duties by tomorrow, it would be open to the State Government to take appropriate action against them in accordance with law.

The Court however held that the government shall sympathetically consider the demand for not taking any disciplinary action for the period of absence of the striking Nursing employees so as not to precipitate the matter and consider granting them leave of any kind that may be due in their account or otherwise, if no such leave is found due in the accounts of the respective nursing employees, grant such leave without pay, but shall not treat such period as break in service.[Nagrik Upbhokta Margdarshak Manch v. State of M.P., 2021 SCC OnLine MP 1349, decided on 07-07-2021]

Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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