Doctors to pay for deaths during strike : Allahabad High Court  

Imagine a situation where a seriously ill patient goes to the government hospitals like PGI or AIIMS, in an emergency and he or she is denied treatment for the reason that govt. doctors are on strike and due to non-treatment on time the patients succumbs to the illness.

The Allahabad High Court has come down strongly on the Junior Doctors who were observing the strike/absenting from their duty from 30th May 2016 to 02nd June 2016 at Lucknow.  In a PIL filed by the lawyer Moti Lal Yadav, Justice Sudhir Agarwal & Justice Rakesh Srivastava, it noticed that the strike that was continuing for the previous three days and spilling to the fourth day when the case reached the court, number of patients had died. The Court said that they wanted to make it very clear that it was a serious matter and doctors had no legal right to go on strike or absent themselves from their duty. If they did, they were inviting the serious action against them as permissible in law  and it would also justify criminal liability if any patient suffered on account of the strike.

The Court said that reasons for going on strike might be justified but the mode of protest by the doctors was totally illegal. The Court also observed  that the medical services in the government hospitals were generally availed by the poor people, not by the rich, powerful, well-connected people including senior police officials, whether in Judiciary, Administration or politicians. They had at all times the facility of getting treatment in hi-fi hospitals and they normally would not feel the heat due to the absence of medical services in the government hospitals. On the other hand, The miseries of ailing poor people get aggravated and virtually became fatal many times when even minimum facility of attendance of doctors becomes unavailable when such doctors go on strike or absent themselves from their duty.

The High Court directed the State to give compensation of Rs. 25 lakhs each to the legal heirs of the victim who has died because of the strike and the same was permitted to be recovered from the doctors who were gone on strike. The Court directed the State that the name of the erring doctor shall be published on the website and the same shall be communicated to the Medical Council of India for considering cancellation/suspension of license to practice.

Dr. Ashisht Vashisht, medical negligence lawyer in Chandigarh said that High Court has rightly directed the State Government to take criminal action against doctors who went on strike and also to take strict disciplinary action by treating their strike as serious misconduct.

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