Resident doctors from the JJ Group of Hospitals and Grand Medical College were restrained by the Bombay high court on Monday from going on strike or abstaining from work. The court has stopped them from protesting until a report from the grievance redressal committee is submitted and orders on it are passed by the court.
“You may have grievances, you can raise your grievances, but not by resorting to techniques like strike or abstaining from work,” the court said. “Then what will happen to patients,” they sought to know from the lawyer representing the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD).
The bench has now directed the association to take a clear stand if it intends to go on strike or abstain from work in the future and file an affidavit to that effect within two weeks.
Acting advocate general Rohit Dev informed the bench that retired high court judge justice VC Daga has expressed willingness to head the seven-member redressal panel, which will look into the issues raised by resident doctors attached to JJ Group of Hospitals and Grant Medical College, including their complaints against the head of ophthalmology department of the College and dean of JJ group of hospitals.
The acting advocate general was responding to a PIL filed by city activist Afak Mandviya, raising concerns about the frequent calls of strikes given by resident doctors. The RTI activist contended that resident doctors going on flash strikes have become a regular event because of which great inconvenience is caused to several poor and needy patients. He alleged resident doctors were resorting to strike over petty issues and therefore the issue of them going on strike repeatedly should be decided once and for all. He has also sought strict implementation of provisions of the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act, 2011. The new legislation, which came into affect in July 2012, provides for penal consequences if those engaged in essential services resort to illegal strike. It provides for imprisonment for the period of 1 year and/or a fine of up to Rs2,000 on employees resorting to illegal strike.
The court has requested the committee to expedite the proceedings and has posted the PIL for considering its report on June 23. Meanwhile, the court will take into consideration the stand of MARD as to whether resident doctors could go on strike or not, on May 4.