The Patna High Court on Monday directed the doctors' associations in the state and each one of the members of these associations, besides other persons discharging duty as Paramedical workers and doctors, to immediately call off their strike and discharge their respective duties, warning that any violation would "only tantamount to aggravation of contempt".
Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice S. Kumar were informed by the Advocate General that one Association of Para Medical Employees has already resorted to strike, and following suit, the doctors have also threatened to go on strike. Reportedly, while paramedical employees under the National Health Mission (NHM) in the state had struck work since Sunday, junior doctors, including those at the AIIMS-Patna and state-run medical colleges, had threatened to boycott work indefinitely from August 27 over their respective demands.
The division bench expressed the strict view that during the time of current situation and circumstances prevalent as a result of Pandemic Covid-19, none of the functionaries empowered and authorised under the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 can refrain from discharging their duties and functions, "more so by resorting to the mechanism of strike which perhaps may be illegal".
The bench continued to observe that doctors and the para medical staff(s) are constitutionally duty bound, even so on humanitarian grounds, to protect and preserve human life.
"Perhaps, they may have some genuine grievance, but then for redressal thereof, proper mechanism has to be resorted to, but State cannot be put to ransom by resorting to an illegal method of protest, i.e. going on indefinite strike", the bench reprimanded.
Noting that Article 21 imposes an obligation not only on the State, but also on its functionaries to safeguard and protect the life of every individual as the Apex Court has already held preservation of human life is of paramount importance.
"The Medical Officers and the Para Medical Staff(s) employed in the Government Hospitals are duty bound to extend medical assistance for preserving human life. Failure on their part to provide timely medical treatment in the need of hour results in violation of right to life. This is what the Hon'ble Apex Court held long ago. Consistently thereafter, every Court of the land, more so this Court in its earlier decisions has already highlighted the need and struck down such an action of the employees", iterated the bench.
The bench on Monday also issued notice in this behalf to the Bihar State Contractual Health Employees Federation and Junior Doctors Association, through the Director, Health Department, Government of Bihar, Patna.
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