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'Striking doctors doing grave injustice'

By A correspondent
May 30, 2006 11:25 IST
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Dr Udit Raj, president of the Indian Justice Party and convenor of the Arakshan Samarthak Morcha has asked the director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences to grant permission to sit on a dharna with suffering AIIMS patients from June 5, 2006.

Many Dalit organisations have said on Monday that the striking doctors are doing "great injustice" to the patients of AIIMS.

The patients are being denied their fundamental rights, ie, right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

The Delhi high court, specifically in case of AIIMS, and the Supreme Court, in other matters, have held that doctors can't go on strike. In addition the Medical Council of India's instructions clearly say, "No physician shall arbitrarily refuse treatment of a patient."

This misconduct attracts disciplinary action against striking doctors, claims Raj.

He added that strikes by government employees have been deemed to be illegal by the Supreme Court.

Government employees have no right to strike; the act of coercion of medical practitioners to join the strike is illegal because it constitutes inciting others to strike and is also a criminal act and striking work by doctors and neglecting patients by not extending medical services to them amounts to professional misconduct under the Code of Ethics Regulations, MCI.

Dalit and other backward organisations of New Delhi have in a written statement alleged that in past doctors had never gone on strike but this time members of Dr Venugopal's, AIIMS director's department of  the Cardio Thoracic Vascular Surgery, department are leading the agitation.

Raj asked, "Isn't it because of his tacit support? When employees for their genuine sufferings in the past, went on strike, they were suspended. Why was that yardstick not applicable to these doctors?"

Many Dalit doctors of AIIMS told, "The director is frequently leading the striking doctors to the Prime Minister's Office. It means that he is encouraging them and confusing the PMO to give new assurances that the matter will be reviewed and that further enthuses striking doctors to linger on to the strike when the matter has been settled on the part of the government."

Dalit and OBC doctors belonging to AIIMS have met the health minister to end the strike, but he did not show any inclination to sit with them and solve the problems, complain the pro-reservation doctors.

A written complaint has been also given to the government by the doctors that they were not being allowed by striking doctors to carry out their duties, but no action was initiated.

Pro-reservation doctors claim there are very few doctors from AIIMS sitting on dharna, it is outsiders who are giving life to this dharna.

Without the AIIMS director's permission amenities like electricity, water and sweeping could have not been provided to striking doctors.

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A correspondent