SC: Frame guidelines to help nurses

In a relief to the nursing community, the Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre to consider framing guidelines to improve the working conditions of nurses, especially those working in metropolitan cities, and provide them with a decent life.

The Social Justice Bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and U.U. Lalit gave the Centre a four-week deadline to study the problems plaguing nurses, who are forced to work for meagre remuneration.

Appearing for the Centre, Additional Solicitor General P.S. Narasimha assured the court that the government “will take care” of the problems affecting the nurses, including their complaints about lack of facilities, low salaries and poor working atmosphere in hospitals and nursing homes.

Mr. Narasimha, however, said the Centre has no control over institutions run exclusively by State governments.

“In such cases, the States have to take action. But we will take care of the institutions coming under us,” the ASG submitted before the Bench.

The hearing came on a petition filed by the Indian Council of Nurses, which represent over three lakh nurses across the country.

The Council’s lawyer, Supreme Court advocate Romy Chacko, argued that hospitals and nursing homes keep in their custody the original certificates of the nurses — a practice more prevalent in the cities such as Delhi, Mumbai and other metros — and that amounts to bonded labour.

Mr. Chacko said the nurses are “too poor to approach the courts individually and fight for their basic rights.”

“They get Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 6,000 a month. They cannot afford to go individually to the court against the hospital management. So the association has come to the highest court. There is a need for uniform guidelines to help them lead a decent working life,” Mr. Chacko submitted.

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