The Supreme Court today asked the centre to issue directions to states by tomorrow for payment of salaries and providing necessary quarantine facilities to doctors and healthcare workers engaged in treating COVID-19 patients.
The Supreme Court bench of justices Ashok Bhushan, S K Kaul and M R Shah also 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 Chief Secretaries must ensure that doctors are paid salaries, the court said, warning that any violation will attract punishment.
The bench was hearing a petition filed by a private doctor raising questions on the Centre's May 15 decision that 14-day quarantine was not mandatory for doctors.
Senior Advocate KV Vishwanathan, who represented the petitioner, sought clear cut directions regarding accommodation, quarantine and payment to doctors, saying that the affidavit submitted by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta is "vague".
"Salaries are not being paid regularly to healthcare workers. Regarding quarantine there are no details of accommodation. Also doctors who are treating COVID-19 are not quarantined unless they are under high risk category," Mr Vishwanathan said.
On behalf of the government, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that everything will be done to resolve the matter in "right earnest" and assured the top court that it will make non-payment of salaries a criminal offence.
"We are doing everything required in right earnest. Such petitions cannot be and will not be seen as adversarial. We are taking particular care of doctors and nurses. We are giving quarantine facilities at the nearest place but for people in labs do not need as they don't come into direct contact with patients," he said.
In the last hearing, the top court had said that the government needed to do more to address concerns of medical professionals, saying that the country "cannot have dissatisfied soldiers in this war that is being made against coronavirus."
The court quoted media reports from Hyderabad and Delhi on doctors not being paid and said "such incidents should not have happened".
"Do not take a cosmetic artificial approach," the court told the government.
With inputs from PTI