Madhya Pradesh High Court: The Division Bench of Mohammad Rafiq, CJ. and Sujoy Paul, J., decided on a petition which was filed with the prayer that members of Junior Doctors Association (JUDA) of Government Medical Colleges in the entire State of Madhya Pradesh and other Associations or Unions of Doctors/Medical Officers/ Nurses/Medical Staff, should be restrained from continuing with the strike and that direction be given to the State Government to initiate appropriate action against the erring directors under the Essential Services Maintenance Act, National Disaster Management Act and the Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulations 2002 and that action be taken against the members who have by proceeding on strike committed contempt of the orders passed by this Court.
Mr Pranay Choubey, counsel for the petitioner had submitted that members of Junior Doctors Association, who were students of post graduation study course in various branches of medicine had abstained from work w.e.f. 31-05-2021, demanding increase in their stipend, as a result of strike the emergency services in all type of hospitals had been shut down.
Mr Rishi Shrivastava and Mr Siddharth R. Gupta, counsel for the striking doctors argued that
- first demand of the Junior Doctors was for increase in the amount of stipend which was static for past many years
- second demand of the junior doctors was that they should be provided adequate security at the work place as in certain incidents they were subjected to not only misbehavior but also beating by the attendants and family members
- if they and their family members were infected with corona virus, they should be provided free of cost treatment in the same hospital where they were working
- fourth demand was that the medical colleges should waive the fee for the period of extension of the study course of post graduation and diploma over and above the period of three years
- fifth demand was that 10% additional/extra marks given to the P.G. students who are rendering their services in rural/ remote/ difficult areas
Mr Purushendra Kaurav, Advocate General submitted that the resident doctors by proceeding on strike have committed contempt of the order of this Court and that the state government may consider their demand only if they first call off the strike and resume the duty.
The Court observed that All doctors have a solemn duty towards humanity. This duty binds them to serve the citizens suffering from any kind of disease. In the present scenario, this duty requires them to join hands with all fellow citizen in fight against the ongoing pandemic of Coronavirus. The Court was of the view that in this crucial phase of our lives when whole of the country is grappling with the deadly menace of Covid-19 following its second wave, the striking doctors have completely forgotten the solemn oath taken by them in the above extracted declaration. We quite appreciate that they have suffered hardship and rendered duties at odd hours at the cost of their health. But at the same time it is also equally true that they have chosen a wholly inappropriate time to press for their demands, howsoever reasonable they may be, by proceeding on strike.
The Court declared that the strike by junior doctors was illegal and directed them to immediately resume their duties and if they do so a high powered committee consisting of the Chief Secretary of the State, Additional Chief Secretary, Medical and Health and the Commissioner, Medical Education shall immediately call them for negotiation. If they failed to do so within 24 hours, it would be open for the government to take any legal action against them as it may deem fit in accordance with law.[Shailendra Singh v. State of M.P., 2021 SCC OnLine MP 1034, decided on 03-06-2021]
Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.