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Look into nurses’ grievance, supreme court tells government

The Supreme Court Friday asked the central government to look into the nurses’ grievance that private hospitals were retaining their original professional certificates, thereby thwarting their chances of exploring better employment opportunities.

A bench of Chief Justice S.H.Kapadia, Justice A.K.Patnaik and Justice Swatanter Kumar asked Additional Solicitor General Gourab Banerji to look into the matter after the labour ministry was quoted as having told parliament that it was seized of the matter.

Chief Justice Kapadia told Banerji to sit with senior counsel Colin Gonsalves, appearing for petitioner NGO Pravasi Legal Cell, to see what the government could do to address the nurses’ grievances.

Gonsalves told the court that nurses in private hospitals were in a virtual bondage as they are forced to continue working in the hospital and could not change their jobs as their original professional degrees and certificates are retained by the hospital.

As court inquired whether the central government issued any direction, Gonsalves said the labour ministry says that it is considering issuing directions.

The court was told that hospitals could keep the Xerox copies of the original certificates and return the originals.

Gonsalves told the court that after a brief order by the Delhi High Court, some hospitals returned the original degrees of 5,000 nurses.

During the course of the hearing, the apex court asked him if a hospital indulged in malpractices, which authority would proceed against it and make it fall in line.

Gonsalves said that under the Clinical Establishment Act, both the central and state government can issue the directions.

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