Won't go on strike: MARD assures Bombay HC

While the doctors’ association filed an affidavit promising this, the state returned the favour by saying that it would hire 896 more guards for state hospitals

The Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) told the Bombay High Court yesterday that henceforth they will not go on strike and will protest, if required, peacefully while abiding by the law. Since the doctors had also raised concerns about their safety, the state told the court that it would hire 896 more guards for hospitals across the state.

In the last hearing, the HC bench comprising Justices Abhay Oka and Prakash Naik had asked the doctors not to resort to strikes. “Now that a proper grievance redressal cell is in place, you should approach them with your problems and not strike and put the patients’ lives in jeopardy,” said Justice Oka, while demanding an affidavit from the MARD promising that.

The court has also threatened doctors that if they go on strike despite agreeing not to do so, the state can take action against them under Maharashtra Essential Services and Maintenance Act 2011.

MARD, yesterday, submitted the affidavit in the court that said doctors would not strike and only carry out peaceful protests if required. “Article 19 (Right to Freedom) allows us to peacefully protest while abiding by the law,” said advocate Rahul Totalla, who represented MARD.

Simultaneously, they also raised their safety concerns in front of the bench since in this year itself five times doctors in public hospitals have been attacked. To this, Advocate General of Maharashtra, Rohit Deo, said the state had, with the help of MARD, found that there were presently 482 guards deployed outside public hospitals but around 896 more guards were required in 14 public hospitals, which the state is planning to immediately hire on contractual basis.

The court, however, advised the state to deploy cops instead of guards on contract. “Will contractual guards have any power and ability to stop the large number of vandalisers who enter public hospitals and damage public property and assault doctors? You should think of deploying police, as they have more powers,” said Justice Oka.

The HC bench also asked the state to conduct a security audit of hospitals and file an affidavit listing steps the state can take to protect resident doctors. The case will next be heard on July 10.

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