The Bombay High Court today suspended Maharashtra government’s decision to terminate the services of around 600 Ayurvedic doctors for participating in a week-long strike, and asked them to join the duty immediately. The division bench headed by Justice Naresh Patil was hearing a petition filed by 98 doctors who had extended support to the strike called by Maharashtra Association of Gazetted Medical Officers last month, and who were later sacked.
The court also directed the state to pay their wages for the strike period (July 1 and 7). “We find that the action taken by the state was harsh and unreasonable… In our prima facie view, the real sufferers now are rural children for whose benefit Central government’s National Rural Health Mission scheme was put in place,” the judges said. However, the court also said that the state can terminate contracts of the doctors in case they failed to discharge their duties.The matter was posted for final hearing after six weeks.
The court asked the sacked doctors to join the duty. Meanwhile, in response to a public interest litigation which alleges that several patients died at government hospitals during the strike because there were no doctors to attend to them, the judges also asked government lawyer and the petitioner’s lawyer to take instructions about composition of a scrutiny committee to look into such deaths. The Director of Health Services Dr Satish Pawar has said in his affidavit that 230 deaths were reported from government hospitals during the strike.