Apex court issues notice to IMA over doctors’ strike

June 25th, 2012 - 5:10 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 25 (IANS) The Supreme Court Monday issued notice to the Indian Medical Association (IMA) on a plea by a non-government organisation seeking to declare as illegal the day-long doctors’ strike.

The IMA has given call for one-day nationwide strike Monday to protest the Clinical Establishment Act and the introduction of Bachelor of Rural Health Care course.

While issuing the notice on the PIL by the People for Better Treatment (PBT), the apex court bench of Justice H.L. Gokhale and Justice Gyan Sudha Misra observed: “We expect that doctors will not resort to this kind of methods.”

The notice is returnable in four weeks.

Senior counsel Tajinder Singh Doabia, who appeared for the union health ministry, accepted notice on its behalf. He told the court that doctors should not go on strike.

As senior counsel N.M. Krishnamani appearing for the petitioner NGO pressed for the court order declaring the strike illegal, the apex court observed that if it gives some order at the last minute how would it ensure its implementation.

How the implementation of its orders would be ensured, the court asked, as the strike was already on.

Krishnamani told the court that the strike was illegal and unethical, and would add to the sufferings of patients. He feared that the strike and resultant non-availability of treatment to patients could cause deaths in some cases.

The NGO has said the strike is “unethical, immoral and against the law” and is in violation of “Code of Ethics and Regulations” of the Medical Council of India.

The petition said the apex court in its earlier judgment while acknowledging the right to strike as basic right in a democratic society had held that people engaged in essential public services could not take recourse to such methods of agitations that put entire society to ransom.

Expressing its bewilderment over the “astonishing silence” of the union health ministry, the petitioner sought direction to it take “immediate steps to ban doctors’ strike in hospitals across India”.

The petition said the proposed doctors’ strike would deprive the patients, largely poor and from impoverished background, of their “fundamental right to life which is protected under Article 21 of constitution”.

It said doctors ought to be injuncted from causing medical services to a standstill as it amounted to renouncing their Hippocratic Oath.

Earlier, on Friday, the apex court had deferred the hearing on the PIL as Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai recused herself from hearing the matter as her husband was part of the IMA which had given the call for strike.

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