Implement recommendations on nurses’ pay: HC to Delhi govt.

The Delhi High Court has ordered the city government to implement a Supreme Court-appointed expert committee’s recommendations on the pay and service conditions of nurses employed in private hospitals and nursing homes here.

Justice Subramonium Prasad took a serious view of the “180 degrees” turn made by the Delhi government, which after defending the expert committee’s recommendations during an earlier hearing, has taken a “U-turn” by stating that it cannot be implemented.

“This can be construed as wilful disobedience of the Orders of this Court,” Justice Prasad said as he cautioned the Delhi government that non-implementation of the expert committee’s recommendations before the next date of hearing on July 12 could invite contempt proceedings.

After an order of the Supreme Court on January 29, 2016, a committee consisting of nine members, including the Directorate General of Health Service, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, was constituted to look into the grievances of nurses in private hospitals and nursing homes.

It found that the “pay and working condition” of nurses employed in private hospitals/nursing homes “is really pathetic”.

It recommended that for hospitals having less than 50 beds, the nurses should not be paid less than ₹20,000 per month.

These recommendations were accepted by the Delhi government and an order was passed by the Directorate General of Health Service (DGHS) on June 25, 2018, directing all hospitals/nursing homes to comply with it.

When this June 25, 2018 order was challenged before the High Court by private hospitals and nursing homes, the Delhi government had then “vehemently” defended the implementation of the recommendations.

The High Court, then on July 24, 2019, rejected the private hospitals’ plea noting that compliance of the recommendations of the Expert Committee to remedy the pay and service conditions of nurses employed in private hospitals/nursing homes, “cannot be avoided on the ground of financial hardship”.

When Indian Professional Nurses filed a contempt petition before the High Court last year, the Delhi government after defending the recommendation, filed an affidavit stating that the recommendations were “unimplementable”.

In the affidavit, the Delhi government stated that a “manifold increase in the benchmark figure required to be paid as salaries/wages will have a ripple effect and will be passed to the general public”. It said it was not financially viable to compel private hospitals/nursing homes to implement the pay scale as recommended by the expert committee.

The High Court, however, said it will not accept the “change in stance” of the Delhi government. It directed that if the recommendations are not complied, the concerned officers of the government will have to be present in court on next date to explain as to why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them.

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Printable version | Jul 2, 2022 12:42:54 pm |