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SC directed to pay salaries to doctors

The Supreme Court asked 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.

The government told the court it would issue the necessary directions.

A bench of justices Ashok Bhushan, S K Kaul and M R Shah said that doctors and healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients should not be denied quarantine facilities.

The top 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.

The bench was 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.

Doctor Arushi Jain, in her petition filed through advocates Mithu Jain and Arjun Syal, 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.

During the hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre said that government would issue the directions to states and union territories within 24 hours to ensure timely payment of salaries to doctors and health care workers.

He said that the May 15 circular on Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) will also be modified and do away the clause for non-mandatory quarantine for healthcare workers engaged in COVID duty.

Mehta also gave the assurance that a new order would be issued for providing suitable alternate accommodation for doctors and healthcare workers engaged in COVID duty to avoid risk to their family members.

He said that Centre is also thinking to make non-payment of salaries by hospitals to health care workers a criminal offence under the National Disaster Management Act.

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