SC upholds NMC's order, says permitting MCI staff to re-enter office may not be proper at this time

SC upholds NMCs order, says permitting MCI staff to re-enter office may not be proper at this time

New Delhi: In what is proving to be bad news for erstwhile MCI employees, the Supreme Court has set aside a contempt of court order upheld by the Delhi High Court. The MCI had gone to the high court against the National Medical Commission, the new body that has replaced the MCI. The NMC had locked them out of their office and withheld access to computers and biometric attendance which aggrieved employees say was a violation of an earlier stay by the high court.

A three member Bench of the Supreme Court headed by UU Lalit upheld the NMC's order and said the employees would have to sit it out at home till the Delhi High Court's final verdict. Their salaries and perks during this period would be protected however.

"Since the original writ petition is pending where the validity of the 2019 Act is in question, at this stage, in our considered view, permitting employees to re-enter office may not be proper. So long as employees are getting their salary and emoluments, there would not be any prejudice and it should be left to the employer to consider whether the services from such employees be taken or not," the SC said.

The MCI's contention that the "body of writ petitioners comprised peons, drivers, lift operators, clerks and ministerial staff and most of them would not even be doing any regular office work…it would be humiliating for an employee to be receiving salary and emoluments without putting in any work on their part" didn't cut ice with the court.

Employees battling it out are now pinning their hopes on an amendment to the Indian Nursing Council Act, 1947 that will replace the existing council with a National Nursing and Midwifery Commission Bill, 2020. The draft, now available for public comments, says, "the Central Government shall, by notification, make rules to decide on the continuity of the officers and employees who have been, before the dissolution of the Indian Nursing Council, employed on regular or contractual basis by the Indian Nursing Council, in the manner as may be prescribed by the rules"

"We hope the government will order a similar provision for the MCI. By allowing for such a provision in the Indian Nursing Council, we think there is a thaw in the government's position. Our right to livelihood has been affected. Our plea is let us be absorbed in any other department in any part of the country," employees say.

The 92 odd employees battling it out are particularly miffed at the allegations that the MCI is a "den of corruption". A Niti Aayog report says one reason for not absorbing these employees in the new commission is the track record of the MCI. "In order to create a vibrant work environment, untainted by the influence of the predecessor organisation," the report states. While the MCI has been embroiled in allegations of corruption in the past, "there is not a single case against the present employees, no FIR and no disciplinary proceedings. So why should we be targeted," officials say.

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