The Bombay High Court on Thursday directed the resident doctors, who are abstaining from duty in various hospitals across Maharashtra for the last four days, to resume work immediately. The high court said the issues and demands of the doctors can be amicably resolved with the state government.

The court also directed the government and the management of various hospitals not to take any punitive action against the doctors who were served notice on Wednesday for not resuming their duties.

Nearly 4,000 resident doctors are staying away from work since Monday, demanding enhanced security in the wake of a string of attacks on doctors by patients’ relatives at government hospitals across the state. A division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice G S Kulkarni was today hearing a petition filed by activist Afak Mandaviya seeking action against the protesting doctors.

b”Resident doctors protest at the Azad Maidan demanding security after a intern was assaulted by patient’s relatives in Mumbaixc2xa0″

“The doctors will have to first go and resume their duty. All other issues can be amicably sorted out gradually,” Chief Justice Chellur said. “We understand that the doctors are working in strained and horrible conditions sometimes, but we request them to resume work immediately,” she said. The bench said that the doctors can sit with the government and also the state-appointed committee and resolve their disputes.

State Advocate General Rohit Deo informed the HC that the government has decided to deploy an additional 1,100 armed police personnel from Maharashtra State Security Corporation in all the state and civic-run hospitals.

“The first lot of 500 police personnel will be deployed at hospitals in Mumbai on April 5. The remaining 600 will be deployed at hospitals across the state by April 30,” he said. “This will be in addition to the already deployed policemen at the hospitals,” Deo said.

b’Members of Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) protest against the attack on a doctor in Dhule Civil Hospital, in Nagpur’

The court accepted this statement and asked the doctors to resume work. “You (doctors) resume work and see if everything is done as assured by the government. We will hear the matter every fortnight and supervise the issue,” the judges said.

The high court further observed that in the past too the government had made assurances but still the doctors have gone on protest. “There must be something amiss then. But the doctors should also not resort to such drastic steps. Some amicable solution needs to be arrived at,” Justice Kulkarni said.

The judges further said, “Doctors take an oath that they will work in any condition. We understand that you are working in strained conditions but your profession is so sacred you cannot afford to go on strike.” “Medical attention cannot wait. The doctors’ basic duty is to save lives,” they noted.

b’Members of Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) during the second day of their protest against the attack on a doctor in Dhule Civil Hospital, in Nagpur’

“It is very painful to see patients and their relatives waiting outside hospitals. What if your (doctors) relatives face such a situation,” Chief Justice Chellur said. Advocate Rahul Totla, appearing for the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD), assured the court that the association would ask all its members to resume work immediately.

The court further directed the management of various hospitals to strictly implement the rule of allowing only two relatives with every patient inside the hospital premises. “We do not understand why 50 persons have to enter the casualty or emergency ward with the patient. This adds pressure on the doctor and then emotions run high resulting in such assaults on the doctors,” the judges observed.

“The relatives should also have some trust in the doctors,” they said. The bench noted that the doctors’ protest must not have stemmed from the recent assault incidents but must be a result of “sustained frustration” since their demands are not met.

“The government should not ignore their doctors. What is the use of modern technology and science when the doctors have to work in such conditions?” the court observed. The HC posted the petition for further hearing on April 6. 

(All images sourced from PTI)