Supreme Court asks Centre to consider plight of nurses

The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Central Government to consider the plight of nurses working in hospitals who are victims of the allegedly illegal practice of bond, including the retaining of their original certificates to prevent them from leaving the institutions.

A three-judge Bench comprising Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia and Justices A.K. Patnaik and Swatanter Kumar, without issuing notice on the petitions highlighting their problems, asked Solicitor-General Rohinton Nariman to look into the grievances and see whether some circulars could be issued in this regard by the Union Labour Ministry to the hospitals concerned.

The petitionswere filed by the Pravasi Legal Cell through its president Jose Abraham and Malayali Nurses' Welfare Association through its president Usha Krishnakumar. Senior counsel Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the petitioners, submitted that employers in almost all the private hospitals were keeping the original certificates and compelling nurses to work in their hospitals for years. If a nurse wanted her original certificates back, she had to pay Rs.50,000 to Rs.1 lakh. He said about one lakh nurses were facing the problem.

When the CJI wanted to know whether the Centre could take action against the hospitals and if so under which law, counsel said the Centre could issue a direction under the Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Act that hospitals should maintain only Xerox copies of certificates and not the originals.

The CJI then asked the Solicitor General to look into the problems and respond within six weeks.

The petitioners said: “One of the main reasons for the continuation of this illegal practice is the acute scarcity of nurses and since the majority of them are females. Withholding of original certificates is discriminatory, unfair, illegal and violative of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 19, 21, and 23 of the Constitution.

“The employers have no right whatsoever to withhold the original certificates except for verification and are duty-bound to return them the same day.

“But contrary to this, majority of the private hospitals in India are obtaining the original certificates from the nurses and illegally keeping them in their custody and compelling the nurses to work there for years, which is prima facie illegal and against the principles and norms enshrined in the Constitution.”

The petitioners said they had made several representations to various authorities for an appropriate legislation, but no action had been taken.

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2021 9:37:21 AM |

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