The State government on Tuesday warned junior doctors that it would invoke the Essential Services Maintenance Act (Esma) against them if they did not rejoin duty on Wednesday.
It directed the police to take the leaders of junior doctors into preventive custody in the early hours of Wednesday if they did not show any sign of relenting. Hardening its stance, the state government also asked the NTR Health University to evict junior doctors from hostels and initiate the process of cancelling their registrations.
Advocate General, Mr C.V. Mohan Reddy, informed the High Court about the government decisions. Chief Minister, Dr Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy, said it was unfortunate that junior doctors were staying away from their duties even after the government approved an ordinance to protect them. “They are putting the lives of patients in peril,” he said. “I request them to rejoin duty immediately. Those demanding rights should also understand their responsibilities.”
The Chief Minister added that he would be forced to “reluctantly” invoke Esma if the junior doctors did not heed his words. “We have made attack on doctors a non-bailable offence,” he reminded. “No other state has an ordinance to protect doctors.” Dr Reddy said it was unfair to demand the arrest of the MIM MLA since he was already arrested and released on bail.
However, Dr G. Raju, former president of the junior doctors’ association, said that other medicos would lead the strike even if the leaders were arrested. “We are not afraid of arrests since we are fighting for justice," he said. Meanwhile, the High Court on Tuesday directed the Registrar-General to appoint an advocate commission to inspect Gandhi Hospital, Osmania General Hospital, Niloufer and Nayapul Maternity Hospital to find out whether normalcy had been restored.
A division bench comprising of Acting Chief Justice Bilal Nazki and Justice Ramesh Ranganathan directed the commission to submit its report by Wednesday evening. The court directed that one representative of the Government Junior Doctors Association should accompany the commission when it records the statements of patients on treatment facilities. Mr Mohan Reddy said that the government had requested Railways, Army, State Insurance Association, Indian Medical Association and AP Private Nursing Home Association to loan doctors to help run hospitals.
Private doctors were also asked to lend their services to the government hospitals. Apart from this, MBBS degree holders working in administrative positions in the Medical and Health department would treat out patients at the nearest hospital. The commissioner of Ayush was also requested to depute doctors to provide traditional medicine to patients. The HC dismissed a petition filed by an advocate seeking security to hospitals and pointed out that the government had already taken action in this regard.