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COVID-19: Delhi HC dismisses plea for payment of risk and hardship allowance, additional salary to health workers

Aditi Singh

The Delhi High Court today dismissed a petition seeking directions to the Central Government to make provisions for the payment of 'risk and hardship' allowance, bonuses and additional salary to health workers. (SK Rout vs Ministry of Heakth and Family Welfare, UOI)

The Court acknowledged that undoubtedly, the health workers were doing commendable job but the Constitution of India did not permit it to direct or advise the Executive in matters of policy or sermonize qua any matters within the sphere of Legislature.

The order was passed by a Division Bench of Justices Manmohan and Sanjeev Narula.

The Petitioner, SK Rout, had preferred a pubic interest litigation with prayers concerning payment of salaries to the health workers.

Apart from seeking a direction to the Central Government to introduce 'risk and hardship' allowance etc for health workers who are working tirelessly during the pandemic, the Petitioner also prayed for timely payment of salaries, non-deployment of workers who are above the age of 48 years and supply of basic Personal Protection Equipments to all health workers.

The Petitioner argued that the benefit of hazard or risk pay, which is extended to officers in high-active field areas such as counter-insurgency operations, in accordance with the Seventh Central Pay Commission should also be extended to health workers who are dealing with or treating COVID-19 patients.

The Petitioner also relied on orders passed by the Bombay High Court, Nagpur Bench and Karnataka High Court which recommended that Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers be paid an additional sum of Rs. 200 per day.

After hearing the Petitioner, the Court noted that before moving the Court, the Petitioner had not made any representation to the State or the Central Government.

The Court added that there were no averment in the writ petition with regard to shortage of PPE kits or a complaint/grievance by any health worker with regard to non payment of salaries.

Newspapers are second-hand, secondary evidence and no Court can grant relief only on the basis of what is published therein, it said.

The Court observed that the 7th Central Pay Commission Report did not specifically recommend payment of Hazard or Risk pay to health workers deployed on COVID-19 duty and that even the orders passed by the Bombay High Court, Nagpur Bench and Karnataka High Court were not binding in nature.

In view of the above, the Court opined,

Undoubtedly, the health workers are doing commendable job under very odd and difficult circumstances, but it is settled law that the Constitution does not permit the court to direct or advise the executive in matters of policy or to sermonize qua any matter which under the Constitution lies within the sphere of legislature or executive. If there is a law, the Court can certainly enforce it; but Court cannot create a law or policy and seek to enforce it.
Delhi High Court

The Petition was accordingly dismissed fo being bereft of merits.

The Petitioner was represented by Advocates Pradeep Sharma, Harsh Sharma.

Centre was represented by ASG Maninder Acharya with Standing Counsel Asheesh Jain and Advocates Adarsh Kumar Gupta, Viplav Acharya.

Read the order:

SK Rout vs Ministry of Heakth and Family Welfare, UOI.pdf
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