New Delhi, Jun 22 - The Supreme Court today deferred its hearing of a plea against the proposed June 25 nation-wide strike by doctors as one of the judges on the bench, slated to hear it, withdrew herself from it saying that her husband is a doctor and it will not be ethical for her to hear it.
Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai who along with Justice H L Gokhale was to hear the matter recused herself from the case saying "it would not be proper" for her to hear the plea as her husband was also a practising doctor and a member of the Indian Medical Association, which has called the strike.
The IMA has called the strike to protest against some of the Union government measures, purportedly aimed at reforming and streamlining the medical profession, while an NGO, People for Better Treatment (PBT) has approached the court opposing the doctors' strike and seeking it to be declared as illegal.
Though senior counsel M N Krishnamani and Rabin Majumder submitted to the bench that they have no objection to Justice Desai hearing the matter, the judges took the stand that only a different bench can hear it.
Doctors affiliated to the Indian Medical Association (IMA) have decided to resort to a country-wide strike on June 25 to protest against the Union government's decision to set up a National Commission for Health and their other policy decisions affecting the medical profession.
According to the IMA, the Centre has set up a National Commission for Health and has brought under its umbrella the National Council for Human Resource in Health, Bachelor of Rural Health Care and MCI.
The government has also proposed some amendments in laws related to clinical establishment and private practise which is being resented by doctors.
The People for Better Treatment (PBT) on its part has submitted to the apex court that the proposed strike violates, apart from the Hippocrates Oath, several other provisions in the Medical Council of India (MCI).
The People for Better Treatment submitted in its petition that the proposed strike also violates medical principles like those of the "Code of Ethics and Regulations", "Maintaining good medical practise", "Obligation to the sick" and "The patient must not be neglected."
"Troubling reports from hospitals all over India continue to appear frequently in the news bearing shocking stories of pain, suffering and death of the innocent patients solely due to the doctors' strike, it said
The PBT said the past experiences shows that the doctors' strike has proved disastrous for the poor and the needy patients.
"It is most humbly submitted that doctors have no ethical, moral or legal right to deny treatment to the ailing citizens by joining the strike or on any other ground.
"Petitioner has absolutely no qualm about any legitimate grievance that IMA and Indian doctors may have against the CEA, 2010 or the BRHC course as proposed by the government, these grievances must be settled with the government through other modes of peaceful demonstration without affecting the patients," the petition said.
It urged the apex court to issue a direction to the Centre to hold that any call for "doctors' strike" should be held as unethical, immoral and against the law.
It further wanted disciplinary steps to be initiated against those breaching the ethics and law. PTI