The Delhi high court on Wednesday spelt relief to hundreds of nurses working in various Delhi hospitals who are "harassed and exploited" by their employers, who withhold their original educational certificates to prevent them from quitting when they get better offers.
Many hospitals, given the acute shortage of nurses, indulged in this practice.
A large number of affected nurses are those who hail from Kerala for short stints in various hospitals in India till they get lucrative offers in some other country.
Lawyers Jose Abraham and Wills Matthews, who argued for the nurses, said hospitals withheld "all their certificates including the B.Sc nursing certificates and nursing council registration certificate. It is not returned when they want and some hospitals give them back after charging up to R50,000 as 'penalty'. There are nearly 1,000 nurses suffering in the city."
"An opportunity to excel in life is denied. There is no law for withholding original certificates," Abraham argued.
A bench of chief justice Dipak Misra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna agreed: "We can realize there is acute shortage of nurses in Delhi hospital. But this is not the way to deal with them. Nurses should not feel bonded or made a slave."
The bench directed the Delhi Health Ministry to frame guidelines in this regard saying "interests of nurses working in various hospitals needed to protected".
The court order came following a PIL where one nurse, Ancy N., challenged the alleged withholding of her original certificates by Indraprastha Apollo Hosptial where she worked.
As per her petition, she had requested the hospital to accept her resignation and return her original certificates so that she could attend to her terminally-ill mother in Kerala.