Taking cognisance of the recent incident in which a traffic constable was attacked by two motorists, and later succumbed to his injuries, the Bombay high court on Friday asked the state government to explain how “policemen and doctors, two categories of people who work for the public 24 hours a day, were being assaulted by the same public”. It directed the government to enhance the amenities provided to them.
A bench led by Justice V M Kanade directed the government and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to deploy private security guards at government hospitals to ensure the safety of staff members, particularly resident and junior doctors.
The court directed the state to file an affidavit detailing the steps taken to provide security at hospitals and the amenities and lodging provided to junior doctors at its hospitals.
“If you [the state] expect doctors to give their best, you must improve conditions. Police and doctors are the most vulnerable. They are the easiest targets for the public to vent its ire upon. It is the state’s responsibility to provide them security and improve their working conditions,” the bench said.
“Produce photos of the current accommodation facilities provided for junior doctors and PG medical students, and tell us how much stipend they get. Show us the appointment letters of these doctors, in which it says that they will be required to work 24X7,” the bench said.
While the state objected to private security guards, submitting that it had already deployed police constables at government hospitals, the bench said, “The BMC can afford it. It is the richest municipal corporation in Asia.”
The directions came while the bench was hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by a city-based activist highlighting the frequent instances of doctors going on strikes and how this affects patients and their families.
During a previous hearing, the doctors’ association had argued that they were forced to strike as a mark of protest against the increasing incidents of attacks on doctors and medical staff by angry relatives of patients.
The bench said that if the state failed to enhance security arrangements at government hospitals by the next hearing, it will summon the principal secretary of the department of public health.