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Last Updated: Nov 18, 2006 - 1:55:25 PM

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Citizens' Group Challenges Maharashtra Resident Doctors' Strike in Court
Mar 8, 2006 - 4:34:00 AM, Reviewed by: Dr. Priya Saxena

"This is despite the fact that the Supreme Court had in 1988 asked all state governments to implement CPS. In 1989 it had issued a show-cause notice to the Maharashtra government on its non-implementation"

A citizens' group Tuesday challenged the ongoing strike of Maharashtra doctors in the Bombay High Court even as the medicos' protest entered its ninth day.

The petition filed in the Nagpur Bench of the Mumbai High Court said that doctors in government medical colleges and hospitals had no right to go on strike.

The petition also demanded compensation for patients who have suffered due to unavailability of the striking doctors' services. The citizens' forum has also demanded that public money spent on the doctors' education be recovered.

Meanwhile, the government doctors showed no signs of returning to work Tuesday as their strike entered the ninth day and instead observed it as a "black day".

Refusing to accept any compromise other than the implementation of the Central Parity Scheme (CPS), which they claim was promised since 1989, the doctors protested by cladding themselves in black.

Over 2,500 doctors of 15 government-run hospitals have stayed away from work since Feb 27 demanding better security at work after relatives of a patient beat up a doctor.

"There can be no other compromise. The CPS has to be implemented. Why is the government not doing it despite its promises?" Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors joint secretary Bharat Jigiasi asked.

"This is despite the fact that the Supreme Court had in 1988 asked all state governments to implement CPS. In 1989 it had issued a show-cause notice to the Maharashtra government on its non-implementation," Jigiasi told IANS.

The CPS is a set of guidelines issued by the Medical Council of India in 1985 on issues like the doctor-patient ratio, duty hours, and living and working conditions of medicos.

According to Jigiasi, Maharashtra is one of the few states yet implement the CPS guidelines.

Doctors of municipal hospitals in other cities in Maharashtra like Pune, Aurangabad, Sholapur and Nagpur have also joined the strike in solidarity.

"We will be protesting tomorrow (Wednesday) at Azad Maidan (Mumbai) by forming a human chain," Jigiasi revealed.

The government has, so far, terminated the registration of 350 doctors for refusing to resume duty, Mumbai Additional Municipal Commissioner V.L. Patankar said.

The government invoked the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA) last Wednesday and asked doctors to return to work at the earliest or face deregistration of their licenses.

Hundreds of patients have been thronging government-run hospitals across the city of 18 million as authorities struggled to cope with emergency cases with the help of skeletal staff.

- Indo-Asian News Service

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