The Bombay High Court on Friday said that police and doctors were the most vulnerable targets for the public and it was the state’s responsibility to provide them security and improve their working conditions.
A bench led by Justice V M Kanade was hearing a public interest litigation filed by activist Afaq Mandviya which had challenged a strike, earlier this year, by members of Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD).
The MARD lawyer argued that the government had not yet taken any security measures to protect resident doctors from physical assaults by relatives of ailing patients, not satisfied with the treatment provided to their kith and kin.
The court directed the government and the BMC to deploy private security guards at government hospitals to ensure the safety of staff members, particularly the resident and junior doctors.
The court has asked the state to file an affidavit and specify the steps taken to provide security at hospitals and lodging facilities, currently provided for junior doctors at its hospitals.
“If you (the state) expect the doctors to give their best, you must in return improve conditions. Police and doctors are the most vulnerable and easiest targets for the public. It is the state’s responsibility to provide them security and improve their working conditions,” said the bench.
“Produce the photos of accommodation facilities provided for junior doctors, PG medical students, and tell us how much stipend they get. Also bring the appointment letter of these doctors to show us where it says that they will be required to work 24X7,” said the High Court.
The state objected to private security guards, submitting that it had already deployed police constables at government hospitals.
However, the court said, “Why the reluctance? The BMC can afford it, being the richest municipal corporation in Asia.”
The court added that in case the state failed to enhance security arrangements at government hospitals by the next date of hearing, it would summon the principal secretary of the department of public health.