The Supreme Court today heard the issue of Delhi government doctors’ salaries today. Amid reports that doctors and health workers were not getting their salary on time while constantly fighting coronavirus, the apex court remarked that the national capital couldn’t win this ‘war’ by keeping the warriors (doctors) fighting against the epidemic dissatisfied.
“Do not take a cosmetic artificial approach,” a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MR Shah said.
The court said it had taken cognisance of protests by doctors of Delhi. “They have not received salaries for three months,” the court observed. It rebuked the government and Municipal Corporations of Delhi for letting the problem fester and reach the court.
“These are concerns that should have been taken. It should not require court intervention. You (government) need to do more. Must make sure their concerns are addressed. The country cannot have dissatisfied soldiers in this war that is being made against corona. Channel the extra money to this issue,” the Supreme Court said.
“Doctors are also subject to wage reduction. If they are working no deduction under any government orders should be done. Private hospitals should also not cut salaries of doctors,” Dr Arushi Jain, the petitioner, had said.
Seizing the opportunity, the court asked the central government to spare a thought to the issue of medical professionals. The court ordered immediate action on the issues the doctors raised.
Scarce supply of medical equipment troubles doctors too
The doctors complained to the Supreme Court that they were not getting the right PPE kits. Further, all the health workers demand places to stay somewhere close to the hospital.
The health workers say, the healers in the court complained, when they return home, they risk the health of their family members. Which is why, they said, the nurses, ward boys of hospitals and other medical staff members wish to stay away from the hospitals they serve.
In the meantime, the Delhi High Court reprimanded the Municipal Corporation of Delhi on the same issue of non-payment of salary to the medical practitioners at the Kasturba Hospital and Bada Hindu Rao Hospital. The judges taunted, “You are so busy that you do not even have time to pay doctors?”
The high court had taken a suo motu cognisance of the issue.
The high court said it was concerned about resident doctors numbering above 300. Their monthly salaries have accumulated to Rs 2.10 crore.
The MCD said that at present it had Rs 10 crore while Rs 17 crore to Rs 18 crore need to be paid to all its doctors.
The MCD conceded before the high court that for the last few months it was unable to pay salaries to the doctors. The court asked the Delhi government and the corporation to decide together how the medical practitioners could be paid as soon as possible.
A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan asked the Delhi government to release funds to the North DMC so that it can pay the April salary of the resident doctors of its hospitals by June 24.
Doctors of the Hindu Rao Hospital and Kasturba Hospital under MCD in Delhi have not received salary for three to four months. Angry medical practitioners had threatened mass resignation if the salaries were not paid by 18 June.
The Delhi High Court on 12 June issued an interim order directing the release of pending salaries of the doctors working at MCD hospitals.
A division bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan issued notices also to the Centre, Delhi government and others.
The high court asked the union government, Delhi government and its health department, North MCD, Kasturba Gandhi hospital, and others to file a reply on the matter and listed it for further hearing in July.
‘Pay up, or else we go on strike’
North MCD hospital doctors had threatened mass resignation or to observe a “pen-down” strike if their salaries for the past three months were not paid.
The doctors at Kasturba Hospital in Delhi have written a letter to the administration, threatening mass resignation while the medical practitioners at the Hindu Rao Hospital have drafted a letter, threatening a similar “pen-down” strike.
The MCD had today pleaded in the court that the doctors should not go on strike in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.