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LHC asks doctors to end strike

July 08, 2012


Representatives of Young Doctors Association arrive at Lahore High Court for a hearing on 7 July. — Photo by ONLINE

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court ordered young doctors on Saturday to end their strike and resume work in outpatient and inpatient departments of all government hospitals from Monday morning.

However, the Young Doctors Association’s president, Hamid Butt, and Young Doctors Association’s president, Hamid Buttsaid a general council meeting of the association would be held on Sunday to chalk out a line of action.

They were talking to reporters after the court concluded the day’s proceedings on petitions against the YDA strike and for cancellation of the striking doctors’ licences.

Advocate Azhar Siddique, who pleaded the cases against the YDA, said in a statement that he would file a contempt of court petition on Monday if the doctors did not obey the LHC order. He said some statements by YDA leaders amounted to contempt of court.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan of the LHC suspended all the government actions, including termination, suspension and show-cause notices, issued to young doctors under the Punjab Efficiency, Discipline and Accountability Act.

Raja Zulqarnain, the doctors’ advocate, told the court the government continued to harass the doctors despite a warning by the court on Friday.

He alleged that after Friday’s proceedings, the government had issued show-cause notices to striking doctors and terminated the services of a number of them. He said the government’s action amounted to contempt of court.

However, Additional Advocate General Faisal Zaman said the notices and termination letters had been issued before the court’s directives.

He defended all actions taken by the government as lawful.

He said Punjab Health Secretary Arif Nadeem had issued a notification mentioning the LHC order and forwarded it to the home secretary, the Lahore police chief and other departments concerned.

The judge asked the YDA counsel to file a separate petition against the alleged harassment and said the court would pass an order if the government was found guilty.

MURDER CASE: Raja Zulqarnain, the doctors’ counsel, argued that after the Punjab Health Care Commission Act, doctors could not be booked under Section 302 of the PPC. In case of a patient’s death, the matter had to be referred to the health care commission for investigation before registration of a case. A case could only be lodged under Section 322 in case a patient died due to negligence of a doctor, he added, urging the court to quash a murder case registered against doctors of Mayo Hospital.

Faisal Zaman, the Additional Advocate General, said Section 322 applied in case a patient died during treatment, but in this case a baby had died because of denial of medical treatment.

He said the child, Fahad, had been laid to rest without autopsy and police intended to exhume the body for determining the cause of death.

On request of counsel for the patient’s father, the judge ordered the government to constitute a medical board comprising senior doctors to supervise the exhumation and post-mortem examination.

The court asked the investigating officer to submit a challan by Monday against the doctors accused in the murder case.

The AAG asked the doctors whether they would end their strike if their four arrested colleagues were released, but the YDA president and the secretary general were reluctant to give any assurance even on the court’s query.

Mr Zaman contended that since the matter related to the service structure for young doctors was sub judice before the Supreme Court, the Lahore High Court should delay its decision in this regard.

About apprehensions repeatedly expressed by the young doctors, Justice Ijazul Ahsan said the court would not allow any illegal action. “The courts are independent and this time we will make history,” he said.

The judge observed that the doctors’ demand for a service structure was not illogical.

The YDA president narrated the alleged illegal actions taken by the government against the striking doctors.

The judge adjourned hearing to July 13 and asked AAG Zaman to come up with arguments on whether a murder case under Section 302 could be lodged against doctors.

He asked YDA’s counsel to file a separate petition for bail of the doctors.

Justice Ahsan asked a committee set up by the Punjab government to submit its recommendations within two weeks. He said the AAG should ensure submission of the minutes of the committee’s meetings and inclusion of young doctors’ representatives in the committee.