Nearly 4,500 doctors across Maharashtra, who were on an indefinite strike since Sunday, today told the Bombay High Court that they are withdrawing their agitation with immediate effect.
The doctors went on a state-wide strike in response to a call given by Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) to extend support to JJ Hospital resident doctors who are demanding transfer of Dean Dr T P Lahane and his deputy for alleged harassment of doctors.
The doctors had gone on strike alleging that they were not allowed to perform operations and also protested against the Dean's behaviour towards them.
The HC was hearing a petition filed by social activist Afak Mandaviya who sought immediate withdrawal of strike by doctors as patients were put to hardship and ran the risk of losing their lives because of non-availability of medical services due to the agitation.
In view of the urgency of the matter, a bench of Justices Ranjit More and Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi today heard the matter in their chambers as the court was closed being a holiday.
The judges asked MARD to call off their strike forthwith in public interest so that patients do not suffer and get immediate medical treatment.
The bench also questioned the doctors and MARD from going on an indefinite strike without approaching the grievance redressal mechanism.
To this, MARD replied that they had not approached the grievance redressal mechanism because the JJ Hospital Dean Dr T P Lahane, against whom they were protesting, was part of the mechanism committee.
The doctors said they wanted an independent committee to hear their grievances and suggested the name of retired Chief Justice Mohit Shah or Retd Justice D K Deshmukh to chair the committee.
The doctors also demanded that other members of the committee should include MARD President and General Secretary, and Directorate of Medical Education.
The high court, while agreeing to their proposal, however, said they would first have to ascertain whether the retired judges suggested by them were available and ready to hear the matter.
Accordingly, the bench asked the High Court Registry to find out whether the retired judges were ready to hear the doctors and the government on the issue.
The matter has been posted for hearing on April 11.
The resident doctors of JJ's Ophthalmology department had complained of mental harassment by Lahane who is also the head of the department.
In a letter to state Medical Education Minister and Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER), MARD doctors at JJ Hospital have sought Lahane's transfer with immediate effect.
The high court today asked Maharashtra government to ensure that the doctors, who had gone on stike, are not victimised and that they got their stipend during the agitation period.
Government pleader Purnima Kantharia argued that the doctors should not dictate terms to the state administration and said that instead of approaching the authorities they had struck work.
However, she assured that the government would hear them provided the doctors called off their strike.
To this, the judges also asked the doctors to give up their agitation in public interest and asked the government to hear their grievances.
The bench also warned the doctors that if action was taken by the government it could be serious.
"They (Government) will hear you, but you (MARD) must call off the strike...Your grievances would be heard by an independent committee," the judges remarked.
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