Published: June 13, 2020 4:13:41 am
The Supreme Court on Friday asked the government to take care of the safety needs of health workers involved in the war against Covid-19, saying the nation cannot afford to have dissatisfied soldiers in the fight. The court also asked the government to address their complaints about payment of salaries.
“This is also a kind of war. You do not want, the country cannot have dissatisfied soldiers in this war that is being made against corona. Channel the extra money to this issue,” Justice S K Kaul sitting with Justices Ashok Bhushan and M R Shah told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.
The court was hearing a PIL by Dr Arushi Jain, who urged the court to direct the government to take over vacant hotels, guesthouses etc and use them as quarantine facilities for frontline medical workers.
Appearing for the petitioner, Senior Advocate K V Vishwanathan said that if doctors on Covid duty are not provided accommodation near hospitals, their family and friends could be exposed to high risk. He referred to the risks of handling Covid-19 cases without full PPE.
Intervening, Justice Kaul said, “Two things we want to know. What are their concerns? What do they want? There could be someone battling at a higher level on one day and lower on another level. How to deal with this problem it should be put before court.”
The SG replied that if there are better suggestions they can be accommodated. He added that the government had already given its suggestions in an affidavit.
Vishwanathan also referred to wage cuts being faced by doctors. He said that if they are working, there should be no deduction under any government orders. Private hospitals should also not cut salaries of doctors, the senior counsel said.
The bench also said there are reports that in many areas, doctors are not being paid. “We saw report that doctors went on strike … These are concerns that should have been taken. It should not require court intervention,” it added. “You need to do more. Must make sure their concerns are addressed,” the bench told the SG.
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