Jabalpur Jul 08 (ILNS) The Jabalpur Bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court on Wednesday declared the strike of the Nursing Association as illegal and directed that all the nurses should return to work. The Court also directed to form a committee regarding this matter.
The Division Bench comprising of Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq and Justice Vijay Kumar Shukla after hearing the concerned parties “declared the strike by the nurses in the State as illegal and condemn their action especially because such a call has been given at a time when the country has still not been able to come out of the ill effects of the second wave of COVID-19.”
“If the Association of Nurses despite assurance fails to resume their duties by tomorrow, it would be open to the State Government to take appropriate action against them in accordance with law”, the Court directed.
The dispute pertains to the nurses working in different Government Hospitals/Dispensaries/CHCs/PHCs of the State, who had proceeded on strike on June 14, 2021. The Petition filed by the Nagrik Upbhokta Margdarshak Manch said that the strike by nurses in the State called by the Joint Forum Nursing Association, be declared illegal as it is causing grave inconvenience to the people of the State.
Ashish Anand Barnard, Additional Advocate General cited the order passed by the High Court June 03, 2021 declaring the strike called by the PG Doctors’ Association as illegal and requiring the State Government to take appropriate action against the erring doctors under the Essential Services Maintenance Act, National Disaster Management Act and the Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulations, 2002.
The AAG further submitted that M.P. High Court earlier on July 25, 2018 had also declared a strike called then by the Nurses of the State as illegal. In the present case, the State Government has issued a notification on June 28, 2021 declaring the services rendered by the Doctors, Nurses, and other health workers, as essential service by invoking Section 4(1) of the Essential Services Maintenance Act and therefore, the ongoing strike by the respondent should be declared illegal.
When the matter was last listed earlier on July 05, 2021, the Court had directed to implead Ms. Rekha Parmar, President of Nursing Association of M.P as a party in the case.
On Wednesday, Atul Choudhary, Counsel appearing for the Joint Forum Nursing Association argued that despite long-standing demands of the Nurses in State, the State Government has not taken any steps for the redressal of their grievances, except, of course, in respect of changing nomenclature of their designation. Reference was made to the demand charter of June 24, 2021 containing a total of 14 demands. It is submitted that the State authorities ought to engage in discussion with the representatives of the Joint Forum Nursing Association for accepting all their reasonable demands so as to enable them to call off the strike. If that is done, the Joint Forum Nursing Association and Rekha Parmar shall call off the strike, Atul Choudhary assured the court.
The Court directed the government to form a committee to look into the charter of demands of the nurses. At this stage, Counsel Atul Choudhary submitted that the period of absence due to strike may not be treated as a break in service and the same may be regularised against the leave of any kind due in the account of respective nursing employees and no disciplinary action should be taken against them for that reason.
The Court directed, “The Government shall sympathetically consider the demand for not taking any disciplinary action for the period of absence of the striking Nursing employees so as not to precipitate the matter and consider granting them leave of any kind that may be due in their account or otherwise if no such leave is found due in the accounts of the respective nursing employees, grant such leave without pay, but shall not treat such period as a break in service.” ILNS/SNG