NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre to ensure that the salaries of doctors and health workers involved in covid-19 duty are paid on time and their mandatory quarantine is not treated as leave.

The order was passed in an impleadment application filed by United Resident and Doctor’s Association seeking urgent intervention of the court in timely payment of salaries to doctors and healthcare workers.

The Centre on Friday submitted before the court that it had issued directions under the Disaster Management Act for timely payment of salaries but Delhi, Punjab, Tripura, Karnataka and Maharashtra were yet to implement the directions.

Justice MR Shah, a part of the bench that is headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan, said, “You are not helpless. You have to see to it that your order is implemented. You got power under Disaster Management Act. You can take steps also.”

On 17 June, the bench, had sought a compliance report from the health ministry and chief secretaries of all states within four weeks regarding the payment of salaries and provision of adequate accommodation and quarantine facilities for healthcare staff on the coronavirus battlefront.

On the top court’s direction to look into the petitioner’s complaint on their quarantine period being treated as leave, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, assured the court that it can’t be treated as leave and the government shall look into it.

“We have been apprised that four states have not made timely payment of salaries. We have been assured that salary of doctors and health workers will be released. List matter on Aug 10,” ordered the court.

On 12 June, the last date of hearing of the case, the bench had said, “We cannot have dissatisfied soldiers in this covid war.” It also asked the government to “travel the extra mile” to ensure the problems of doctors and healthcare workers are taken care of.

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