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Doctor strike: Why did 80 people die? Bombay High Court asks Maharashtra government

Thursday, 10 July 2014 - 6:15am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

The Bombay high court on Wednesday sought a detailed explanation from the state government about steps taken by it to avoid doctors' strike in future.

Recently, 12,000 doctors under the ageis of Maharashtra Association of Gazetted Medical Officers (MAGMO) went on a strike for five days. During this time, hundreds of peoople were denied medical care.
MAGMO wanted 821 doctors to be made permanent and central pay scale be given to them. The strike was called off on Monday.

A division bench of justices NH Patil and Ravindra Ghughe asked the government to explain the deaths of 80 people in the state as cited by the petitioner. Did they die for want of medical care? How many surgeries and operations were postponed because of the strike. And what were the alternative steps taken by the government to provide uninterrupted medical care. The government has to answer these questions within two weeks.

The court sought the government's reply while hearing a PIL filed by advocate Gunaratna Sadavarte against the strike. Sadavarte wants the court to direct the government to invoke the Maharashtra Essential Service and Maintenance Act (MESMA) against the striking doctors.

He also wants the state to provide a list of patients who lost their lives or had to suffer irreparable damage because they did not receive medical care. The state should compensate them, he says in his petition.

"The court observed that the government knew the doctors were going on a strike. So, did it take any action under MESMA?" asked Sadavarte. "Was a departmental inquiry conducted against the striking doctors?"

The next hearing is after two weeks.

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