The Rajasthan High Court on Monday directed the state government to arrest the president and general secretary of the doctors’ association if they did not reach an agreement with the administration to end their strike.
The court was hearing the case in a special session despite Monday being a public holiday, as the strike has crippled healthcare services in Rajasthan for the second time in two months. After the order, the state’s Health Minister Kalicharan Saraf gave an ultimatum to the doctors to resume work by Tuesday to avoid arrest, PTI reported.
“We are giving 24 hours time to doctors to resume work,” Saraf said. “No doctor will be arrested if they resume work by tomorrow. Stern action will be taken if doctors do not resume work tomorrow.”
He also said, according to the Hindustan Times: “I don’t understand why these doctors are on strike as government has accepted all their demands.”
Doctors working at government health centres in Rajasthan – associated with the All Rajasthan In-Service Doctors Association – first went on a strike on November 6, but ended it after six days when the government accepted most demands. But they decided to go on a mass leave again from December 18 after a dozen doctors were transferred by the government.
However, angered by the arrest of several doctors on December 15 under the Rajathan Essential Services Maintenance Act, the doctors began their strike two days earlier than planned. As many as 900 resident doctors and 100 senior resident doctors at the Sawai Man Singh Hospital in Jaipur joined the strike after the arrests.
On December 19, the court ordered doctors across the state to resume work immediately and told the state government to not arrest those who return to work.
The doctors have also accused the government of not keeping the promises that it had made in November.