Following a stern warning by the Bombay High Court on Friday, doctors in government and private hospitals across Maharashtra agreed to withdraw their agitation amid revelations that at least 135 patients died in Mumbai in the past five days.
As per the court orders, the doctors are expected to resume normal duties by 8 am on Saturday in all government hospitals in the state.
Taking a serious view of flouting of its orders on Thursday, the High Court today served an ultimatum to the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) to either join duties or face termination proceedings.
Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice G.S. Kulkarni observed that "the doctors are taking undue advantage of us and our sympathy".
"If you (doctors) keep stretching the matter like this, then public will come and hit you. You are creating such an atmosphere," the bench said.
They made it clear if this attitude of the doctors continued, then the hospital managements were free to take action against them, including termination of services.
"We think we made a mistake yesterday by showing them sympathy and appreciating their work," the bench noted.
The BrihanMumbai Mumbai Corp (BMC) told the court that in the past five days of doctors' agitation, 135 patients lost their lives in Mumbai's government hospitals, including 53 in KEM, 48 in Sion LTMG and 34 in Nair due to non-availability of emergency services.
Following a strict deadline of 3 p.m. set by the court, the MARD filed an affidavit stating that it had failed to convince its members to withdraw their mass leave agitation and MARD had no objections if the government takes action against the doctors.
Shortly afterwards, the 40,000-strong Indian Medical Association (IMA) of Maharashtra also announced withdrawal of the agitation by its doctors in private hospitals and general practitioners.
Earlier, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis made a fervent appeal to the medicos to resume work and reprimanded them for forgetting their (Hippocratic) oath to serve the sick and needy.