The Indian Professional Nurses Association on Saturday moved the Supreme Court to check the alleged violation of human rights of persons professing nursing as a vocation in various hospitals.

The petition, filed by president Mary Teenu Sebastian and secretary Preeti, said the association was formed to safeguard the interests and rights of the staff nurses in different States. The third petitioner, Brajitha Varghese, working in a private hospital, said she was a victim of the bond system: she had signed a bond for Rs. 50,000.

The immediate cause for the petition, they said, was the suicide by Beena Babi, 22, working at the Asian Heart Hospital in the Bandra-Kurla Complex, Mumbai, after she was allegedly harassed by the hospital authorities.

‘No minimum wages'

The petition said nurses “are not being paid minimum wages in most of the private hospitals. They are compelled to sign vouchers for an inflated amount, but are paid a very meagre amount and exploited continuously.”

There were no guidelines to protect and safeguard the interests of nurses in different States. “Difficult working conditions, low salary, slow promotion, lack of job security and related benefits, increased risk of sexual harassment at the workplace, harsh rules for appointment, and impounding of certificates at the time of appointment” were some of the problems.

Further, nurses were compelled to execute one-year service bonds at the time of their joining service and most of the private hospitals were withholding their original certificates.

The petitioners sought a direction to the Union government that it file an affidavit listing the steps taken to prevent the system of service bonds and withholding of qualification certificates, and a direction to all States to ensure that hospitals did not resort to these practices in future.

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