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Police enter AIIMS, dismantle tents

Docs have ignored SC's appeal to end their strike and resume work. What now?

india Updated: May 31, 2006 04:32 IST

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 action.

But the doctors refused to end their strike. Around midnight, police and RAF personnel entered the AIIMS campus — the hub of the protests — and pulled down the protesters’ tents.

Earlier, the doctors said they would not call off their strike as the court 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.

What SC can do if docs continue the stir

• Can invoke Contempt of Court Act

• Can invoke its inherent powers under Constitution’s Article 142 — which gives it room to hand out any amount of punishment

• Action could be taken against identified leadership of agitators

• Punishment can be given without hearing the contemnors

• It can direct relevant authorities to invoke ESMA or impose prohibitory orders in areas where agitators plan to hold protests

DMA president Dr KK Kapur said OPDs in private hospitals would remain closed. "We've got confirmation from major organisations like Escorts, Apollo, Max and Ganga Ram. Private practitioners too won’t work,” he 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, the people are getting affected,” it said.

“…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.

After the order, the students consulted legal experts.

A member of Youth for Equality, Safal, said: “Officially, we haven’t received the order, though we managed a photocopy of it. It doesn’t say anything on contempt proceedings. We respect the court’s observation but lawyers have told us it is not binding on us.”

First Published: May 31, 2006 01:51 IST