The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Centre to ensure that salaries of doctors and frontline healthcare workers, who are involved in tackling the coronavirus pandemic, were paid on time, PTI reported. The Centre informed that four states – Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka and Tripura – are yet to follow its order on timely payment of salaries.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the government, said necessary orders were issued to all states on June 18 after the last hearing. A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah asked the Centre to take steps under the Disaster Management Act, 2005. “If the states are not complying with the directions and orders of the Central government, you are not helpless,” the court said. “You have to ensure that your order is implemented. You have got the power under the Disaster Management Act. You can take steps also.”

The court also asked the Centre to clarify if the quarantine period of healthcare workers was being treated as leave and if the salary for the same was being deducted, Bar and Bench reported. “No argument needed,” Mehta responded. “We will look into it and see that it is a part of duty.”

Senior advocate KV Vishwanathan, for petitioner Dr Arushi Jain, questioned the Centre’s new Standard Operating Procedure, issued on May 15, which ended the 14-day mandatory quarantine for the frontline healthcare workers. He added that states were still not paying healthcare workers on time. Mehta assured that the government will take steps to resolve the matter.

The court will hear the matter next on August 10.

At a hearing on June 12, the top court had expressed concern over reports of doctors not being paid their full salaries in both private and government hospitals and the lack of infrastructure. It told the government that “you do not want dissatisfied soldiers in the war” against the coronavirus crisis.

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