By: Nasir Iqbal
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the Islamabad capital administration to regularise the services of around 366 lady health workers (LHWs)by Monday.
“It is just like reaching for the stars to get our orders implemented in favour of the LHWs who are always in the front line when it comes to extend community services to the people at the time of natural disasters be it floods, polio or dengue outbreak,” deplored Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja, who was heading a two-judge bench that had taken up a petition of Bushra Arain, a lady health worker.
Ms Arain petitioned to the Supreme Court in 2011 for initiating contempt proceedings against the government for not implementing the September 22, 2010, direction of the apex court to frame service structure for the LHWs.
The LHWs had been demanding the regularisation of their services for over three years and also held a number of demonstrations in Islamabad.
Introduced by former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, the LHWs in the country were appointed under the National Programme for Family Planning and Primary Health in 1994. However, their services were never regularised. In November 2010, the wages of the LHWs were increased from Rs3,200 to Rs7,000 from on the direction of the apex court.
On March 7, 2013, the Supreme Court ordered the federal and provincial governments to regularise the services of the LHWs by developing service rules with effect from July 2012.
On Monday, the court also asked AG Salman Aslam Butt to ensure that the government functionaries or law officers got proper instructions from their clients instead of offering casual statements before the court.
The observations came in view of a wrong statement made before the court in one of the previous proceedings when the government claimed that not only the LHWs had been regularised but also they had been paid the salaries from June. But Ms Arain contested the claim stating that no remuneration had been paid to them.
The AG, however, informed the court that the health ministry had approved the regularisation of the LHWs which was now pending with the AGPR and the outstanding salaries would be paid to them by Monday.
The court directed the AG to ensure that the appointment letters are delivered without the requirement of the LHWs visiting the offices of the health departments.
The SC ordered that the health secretaries of the provinces as well as the chief commissioner of Islamabad would also submit affidavits to the court that the appointment letters had been delivered to all the LHWs.