HC directs the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) to withdraw strike
In a blow to striking doctors, the Bombay high court on Wednesday directed the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) to withdraw its strike and the state government to “take appropriate action according to law”.
A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice M S Sanklecha issued these directions after it noted that the state government had done its best to redress doctors’ demands.
“We are prima facie of the view that the state government has looked into the demands of Respondent 1 (MARD) and taken necessary steps for redressal of their grievances,’’ the judges said in their order.
Advocate general Darius Khambata said the government is proceeding to impose the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA) against striking doctors. “We have issued a 24-hour notice which expires this evening. They (doctors) are an essential service. They are holding patients to ransom.”
The judges were hearing a public interest litigation by Afak Mandaviya for direction to MARD to withdraw the strike as patients are being inconvenienced.
MARD advocate S C Daswadikar countered, “Not a single patient has been unattended by doctors.’’
Khambata placed on record action taken on 13 demands of doctors, including stipend. He said junior resident doctors’ stipend has been increased by Rs 5,000 from Rs 31,186 per month to Rs 36,186. However, the doctors were demanding a Rs 10,000 hike.
Disposing of the PIL, the judges said they will not sit in judgment over the government decision on stipend. “The very fact that the state government has given a hike of Rs 5,000 per month to junior resident doctors is more than the stipend paid to doctors in any other state, except Delhi (Rs 52,000),’’ they concluded.
Jagdish K. Gianchandani