Case BriefsCOVID 19Supreme Court

Supreme Court: On the issue revolving around the timely payment of salaries of doctors and health workers during the period of COVID-19, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the bench of Ashok Bhushan, R, Subhash Reddy and MR Shah, that those doctors and health workers, who are quarantined, their period of quarantine cannot be treated as leave and he will obtain necessary instructions/clarifications in that regard.

He has further told the Court that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has passed an order on 18.06.2020 directing for payment of salaries of doctors and health workers during the period of COVID-19 on time and that five States i.e. Delhi, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tripura and Karnataka have not paid the salaries to the doctors and health workers on time to the full satisfaction. He, hence, submitted that appropriate steps in this regard shall be taken by the Central Government to ensure that salaries of doctors and health workers is released.

The Court has listed the matter on August 10, 2020 after Solicitor General sought for a week’s time in the matter.

On June 17, 2020, a 3-judge bench of Ashok Bhushan, S K Kaul and M R Shah, JJ directed the Centre to issue directions to states for payment of salaries and providing necessary quarantine facilities to doctors and healthcare workers engaged in treating COVID-19 patients. Earlier, the Court had observed,

“In war, you do not make soldiers unhappy. Travel extra mile and channel some extra money to address their grievances.”

[Dr. Arushi Jain v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 615 , order dated 31.07.2020]



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Case BriefsCOVID 19Supreme Court

Supreme Court: A 3-judge bench of Ashok Bhushan, S K Kaul and M R Shah, JJ directed Centre to issue directions to states for payment of salaries and providing necessary quarantine facilities to doctors and healthcare workers engaged in treating COVID-19 patients. The Court directed that the said direction be issued by tomorrow i.e. 18.06.2020.

While hearing a plea filed by a private doctor raising questions on the Centre’s May 15 decision that 14-day quarantine was not mandatory for doctors, the Court asked the Centre to file a compliance report within four weeks on payment of salaries and quarantine facilities to doctors and healthcare workers and warned that non-compliance would be viewed seriously.

Doctor Arushi Jain, in her petition, had alleged that front line healthcare workers engaged in the fight against COVID-19 are not being paid salaries or their wages are being cut or delayed.

Senior Advocate K.V. Viswanathan, appearing for the petitioner submitted:

  • doctors and health workers are not receiving their salaries regularly, hence, a direction is necessary to the State Governments, Central Government and all other concerned authorities to ensure that salaries and emoluments of the doctors and health workers are timely paid, who are front-line warriors.
  • with regard to quarantine, there are no details of appropriate accommodations.
  • doctors or health workers, who are directly looking to the patients in COVID ward are not given the facility of quarantine as per guidelines dated 15.05.2020 unless they are covered by high risk exposure.

“a doctor, even with PP Kit, who deals with the COVID patients and devotes time with the COVID patients, has to be given quarantine to protect himself and his family.”

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre submitted:

  • so far as the payment of salary to the health workers and doctors are concerned, appropriate orders shall be issued by the Central Government in exercise of power under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 which may be communicated to all the State Governments and Union Territories for compliance. The said order shall be issued by tomorrow itself.
  • with regard to doctors and health workers, who are directly looking after the COVID patients and are in touch with the COVID patients, are not denied the quarantine. Looking to the requirement of doctors and health workers to manage the hospital, quarantine period should be initially for one week only and thereafter taking the profile of the health worker a decision to be taken for further period of one week

The bench directed that necessary directions be issued by union health secretary and chief secretaries of the State by tomorrow.

On June 12, the top court had observed,

“In war, you do not make soldiers unhappy. Travel extra mile and channel some extra money to address their grievances.”

It had said that the courts should not be involved in the issue of non-payment of salary to health care workers and government should settle the issue.

Senior advocate K V Viswanathan, appearing for the petitioner, had said that if doctors on COVID duty are not provided accommodation near hospitals their family/friends are exposed to higher risk of infection. He had said that doctors and other healthcare workers, who are engaged in COVID duty, run a great risk of exposure of infection without proper PPE kits and without proper accommodation, their family members are also at higher risk of infection.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, in it’s affidavit said,

“number of cases of COVID-19 are constantly increasing and at some point of time in near future, apart from existing hospitals, large number of temporary make-shift hospitals will have to be created in order to accommodate COVID-19 patients requiring admission, medical care and treatment.”

On April 8, the Court had observed that doctors and medical staff are the “first line of defence of the country” in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, and directed the Centre to ensure that appropriate PPEs are made available to them for treating coronavirus patients.

[Dr. Arushi Jain v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 515 , order dated 17.06.2020]

(With inputs from PTI)

 

Patna High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: Anil Kumar Upadhyay, J., disposed of the writ petition with a direction to the respondents to take appropriate decision with regard to payment of salary for the period of study leave granted by the respondents.

In the pertinent case, the petitioner moved to this Court because of the non-consideration of his case for grant of salary for the period of study leave in terms of the provisions of the Bihar Service Code.

Mahasweta Chatterjee, counsel for the petitioner submitted that Rules 180, 206, and 236 of the Bihar Service Code are not attracted in the case of the petitioner because under the Rules, 2 years leave with salary is admissible for the purpose of enhancing efficiency. It was observed that the scheme of granting leave with salary for enhancing efficiency is different from enhancing educational qualification. The petitioner was granted study leave at his request and it is not a case that the petitioner was sent for any kind of research work which may be treated as enhancing efficiency. Such a scheme of enhancing efficiency is not attracted in the case of the petitioner. She thereafter placed reliance on Rule 205 of the Bihar Service Code to contend that Rule 205 permits grant of study leave with half salary.

High Court observed that “Since the petitioner was granted study leave, there is no justification not to decide entitlement of petitioner one way or the other with regard to benefit of salary whether full or half available to the petitioner. The writ petition is disposed of with a direction to the respondents to take appropriate decision with regard payment of salary for period of study leave granted by the respondents. If they decide that the petitioner is entitled to half salary leave, then they have to take appropriate decision and grant benefit of Rule 205 of the Bihar Service Code for grant of half salary for the period of study leave or if they admit that it is a leave granted under Rule 37 of the Service Rule, Annexure-7, then they have to consider the case of the petitioner for grant of full salary which is admissible under Rule 37 of the Rules. [Suresh Kumar v. State of Bihar, 2019 SCC OnLine Pat 1681, decided on 24-09-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: Sunita Agarwal, J. disposed of the writ petition after giving various directions to the Board of Management to expeditiously look into the matter if in any case any representation is filed by the petitioner.

A petition was directed against the inquiry report where the petitioner who was retired from the post of Secretary, Co-operatives Society Limited Gathwaha, was found guilty of misappropriation of Government money. The inquiry report indicated that cash of seven receipts was not deposited by the petitioner in the bank prior to his retirement. The petitioner disputed that there was no proper opportunity to submit his explanation before the inquiry committee. An FIR was also lodged in the police station against the petitioner.

R.K. Singh Rajput, counsel for the petitioner submitted that amount due against the petitioner was to be adjusted with the view of the decision of the Board of Management of the Co-operative Society and it was also placed before the court that salary due to the petitioner would be adjusted in the recovery if any. It was submitted that in such case the adjustment of Rs 437 was to be made. Lastly, it was contended that in view of the decision taken by the Board of Management of the Co-operative Society, Nawabganj, Farrukahabad, no coercive action can be taken against the petitioner.

The Court opined that as there was no order of recovery on the date of the decision of the Board of Management of the society. There could not be any decision of adjustment of dues of the petitioner against the society in contemplation of recovery of public money.  As the learned counsel for the petitioner has not been able to furnish any explanation of the petitioner to challenge the findings of the inquiry report this Court does not find any justification to interfere. The petitioner was therefore directed to deposit the entire dues as sought to be recovered pursuant to the inquiry within a period of two months. It was further directed that it would be open for the petitioner to lay his claim for payment of salary, allegedly due from March 2017 to July 2018. It was instructed to the Board of Management of the Co-operative Society to take the decision expeditiously if in any case any representation is filed by the petitioner.[Suresh Singh v. State of U.P., 2019 SCC OnLine All 2560, decided on 11-07-2019]