Doctors Have No Right To Go On Strike/Boycott Under Any Circumstances : Madras High Court

The Madras High Court has observed that Doctors do not have the right to go on strike/boycott under any circumstances.

Justice N. Anand Venkatesh observed thus while considering petitions challenging the charge memos and the transfer and posting orders issued to Doctors by the Director of Medical Education and the Director of Medical and Rural Health Services.

Taking notice of the fact that the Doctors have resorted to strike protesting the above transfer orders and memos, the Judge considered the issue whether the Doctors have the right to go on strike, whatever be their demands?

The Court, referring to many decisions, observed that in the absence of a legal or even a moral or equitable right to go on a strike the logical corollary is that any form of strike is necessary illegal and without any legal or moral justification. The judge observed:

“There can be little doubt that by going on strike doctors violate a fundamental maxim of medical jurisprudence “Primum, non nocere” ie., first, do no harm. The harm that befalls patients on account of strikes is unfathomable. By using strikes to resolve issues doctors, like lawyers, forget the moral worth and dignity of patients and leave them in the lurch unmindful of the humanitarian consequences that ensure from their actions. Patients cannot be a means to an end. They cannot be mere playthings whose lives can be put on the line to achieve other ends through the medium of strikes.”

The Doctors cannot resort to strike or boycott under any circumstances since they are directly dealing with lives of persons and as between the demands of the Doctors and the lives of the patients, it is life that is more important than anything else. The nature of duty of a Doctor is such that the non-availability of the Doctor even for a single minute may cost a life

The bench, however, concluded that the transfer orders and the charge memos issued to the doctors are clearly tainted with malafides and it has been issued only to punish them who were sphere heading the agitation. The Court also said that it expects the Government to resolve the long standing grievance of the Government Doctors. Quoting from Kambar Ramayana, the judge said:



Lord Rama’s advice to Sugreeva thus “Rule justly, that your subjects look up to you, not as a King, but as a caring mother nurturing her children”, expounding the ideal, as was in vogue in ancient times that King and God were as caring as a mother of her children.”
This Court makes a fervent request to the Government to immediately address the issues/demands made by the Government Doctors and find a solution. The more it is kept pending without any solution, the more it is going to affect the morale of the Government Doctors. The love and concern shown by a Doctor to a patient plays a major role in the recovery of a patient. For this to happen, the Doctor must be kept happy and satisfied and it is the duty of the Government to ensure the same by finding an immediate solution for the long pending problems. Either of the parties are not winners or losers in this litigation and this judgment must ultimately go in favour of the larger public interest involved in the present case. This can happen only if both the parties come together and find an early solution for the pending issues.

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