The Bombay High Court on Tuesday pulled up the resident doctors of government hospitals in Maharashtra for abstaining from duty and observed that their conduct was "shameful".
Over 4,000 resident doctors in the government hospitals of the state have been staying away from work since Monday in protest against recent attacks by relatives of patients on their colleagues.
The doctors are demanding better security for them at the hospitals. A division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice G S Kulkarni was hearing a public interest litigation filed by social activist Afak Mandaviya, seeking action against the protesting doctors.
"If you (doctors) do not want to work, then resign. You are not factory workers that you will resort to such protests. Shame on you. How can doctors behave in such a manner?" the Chief Justice asked.
The Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) told the bench that the protest was not called by it and that it had rather urged all the doctors to report to work.
The petitioner's lawyer, Datta Mane, told the court that the MARD had last year assured the HC, which was hearing another PIL filed by his client, that it would not call for or go on a strike in the future and would resolve its disputes in a peaceful manner.
"If that is the case, then the protesting doctors have committed contempt. The concerned hospital management should initiate action against them," the court said.
Posting the petition for hearing on Wednesday the court directed the MARD to file an affidavit stating that the protest was not called by it and clarifying its stand on the issue.
Mane said patients were inconvenienced because of the doctors' protest. The petitioner also sought a direction to the Maharashtra government to take steps to avoid recurrence of such protests. Recently, a resident doctor of a government hospital in Dhule and a doctor at the BMC-run Sion hospital in Mumbai were attacked by the relatives of patients.