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Medicos adamant

A DAY after medicos ignored its appeal to call off their strike, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered them to resume work in the "larger public interest" or else face the court's wrath. The doctors said they would not call off their strike as the order was "not binding" on them.

india Updated: May 31, 2006 01:47 IST

Agitation continues despite SC warning; big strike today

A DAY after medicos ignored its appeal to call off their strike, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered them to resume work in the "larger public interest" or else face the court's wrath. The doctors said they would not call off their strike as the order was "not binding" on them.

In fact, the Delhi Medical Association (DMA) has called for a bandh on Wednesday in support of the students' demand for a rollback of the OBC quota proposal and against the government's "unaccommodating" stand on the issue.

DMA president Dr K.K. Kapur said OPDs in private hospitals would remain closed.

"We've got confirmation from major organisations like Escorts, Apollo, Max and Gangaram. Even private practitioners will remain shut,” Kapur said. In the court, a two-judge bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat reminded the doctors of at least two of its earlier judgments which make agitation on any matter pending before the court tantamount to contempt.

Acting on its own, the court said it was disappointed that the doctors had ignored its appeal. "Ultimately, people wanting to get treated in hospitals are getting affected," said the bench. "…In view of the fact that reservation for OBCs is being examined by this court, the protest strikes relating to the issue should be called off." The court directed the government to submit a report on the status of the strike on Thursday.  Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium said the government would communicate the order to the striking students.

After coming to know of the order, the students held consultations with legal experts. A member of Youth for Equality, Safal, said: "Officially, we haven’t received the order though we did manage a photocopy of it. It doesn’t say anything on contempt proceedings. We respect the court's observation but lawyers have informed us that it is not binding on us."

Meanwhile, Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss on Tuesday said the government would "restore hospital services from Wednesday, come what may".  Ramadoss said the prime minister had asked him to take all possible steps to maintain services at hospitals. He said the government would not invoke the Essential Services Maintenance Act as it had other options.