New Delhi: The Supreme Court today imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on the Centre for not filing its response on details of steps taken to redress various issues concerning nurses. “What have you done? You have not complied with our order. It cannot be like that,” the social justice bench comprising justices Madan B Lokur and U U Lalit said. The bench said that it “feels sorry” that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has not filed the affidavit on the issue despite a specific order.
“Nurses are very vital part of the healthcare system,” it said and asked the Centre to file the response within four weeks and deposit the cost of Rs 10,000 in two weeks. Earlier, the court had asked the government to inform it about the steps to redress various issues concerning nurses, including retaining of their original certificates when they get employed with private hospitals and nursing homes.
It had asked the Centre to do the needful after considering the representation made by nurses associations. The petition in this regard was filed in 2011 in which the Centre and state governments were asked to respond for framing guidelines for hospitals, particularly private ones, to prevent them from retaining original certificates of nurses at the time of their employment.
The PIL, which has made the Health Ministry as one of the respondents, has alleged that harassment and hostile attitude of various hospital authorities under them have been continuously violating the fundamental rights of various nurses working all over India. The PIL filed by Indian Professional Nurses’ Association (IPNA) and others submitted that the nurses were “literally treated as bonded labourers and asked to make payment to get back their certificates”.
IPNA submitted that there were no guidelines to protect and safeguard the interest of nurses working in various hospitals in different states and the authorities concerned were unnecessary harassing them. The association said the present petition was filed to enforce fundamental rights of working professional nurses under Article 14, 19 & 21 of the Constitution in view of the prevailing circumstances whereby they were exploited at their work places every day in one way or another.