Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday asked the Maharashtra government to treat the strikes called by doctors as a ‘disaster.’ This comes in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) which highlighted the death of hundreds of patients during the strikes called by doctors from the period between 2014 and 2016.
The division bench of Justice Naresh Patil and Justice Nitin Sambre accordingly asked the government to spell out if it has any ‘alternative’ plan which can be worked out for the patients, during strikes by doctors. “We believe that apart from cyclones and others disasters, the government must also consider treating such strikes by doctors as a disaster. Also, there must be an alternative plan especially after learning about the death of hundreds of patients during the period of strikes,” Justice Patil said.
The judges were informed that a committee was set up way back in 2015 to probe the contentions of the petitioners that hundreds of patients had died. However, the committee has not filed a single report in the case till date. Irked by this, the judges said, “It is really shocking to hear this. At least a preliminary report was expected in these three years. You (government) must give importance to the life of people and plan your policies accordingly.”
Accordingly, the judges asked the government bring in some ‘seriousness’ in its administration. “The moment you will bring seriousness in the administration, we think, several things will change. Now, bridges are collapsing, people are dying and several mishaps are taking place. This is because there is no seriousness in your administration,” the judges observed while slamming the government.
Posting the matter for further hearing after four weeks, the judges have directed the government to file the report along with a detailed affidavit spelling out the steps undertaken by the government to avoid such incidents in the future.
It may be recalled that the resident doctors working at various civic and government-run hospitals had went on indefinite strikes in the past causing inconvenience to patients. The doctors had taken such a step to condemn the frequent attacks by relatives of patients and also the harassment meted out to them by the hospital managements. One such significant order was passed by a bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka, directing the government to set up a grievance redressal cell to oversee the grievances and problems of resident doctors.