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Calcutta High Court disposes of PIL seeking action against doctors on strike

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The Calcutta High Court recently disposed of a PIL seeking a direction to the respondents to take strict disciplinary action against all striking doctors in the state of West Bengal in terms of the order of the Supreme Court in the matter of People for Better Treatment (PBT) vs. Secretary, Indian Medical Association (IMA) & Ors. dated 11th November, 2014.

The PIL has been filed by People for Better Treatment (PBT) through its President Dr. Kunal Saha.

The counsel for the respondent raised an objection that on the same issue, second petition at the instance of the petitioner is not maintainable.

Having heard the counsel for the parties and on perusal of the record, the Division Bench of Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj noted that earlier also the petitioner had filed petition which was disposed of by the Division Bench of the Court vide order dated 18th April, 2019 by holding as under:

“Therefore, we would only express our desire that the doctors, who carry out a noble service as God’s agent by saving lives of people, should not resort to strikes with any intermittent cause but undertake their responsibility with efficiency and utmost sincerity at all times.”

Further, the High Court noted that the petitioner has filed the second petition substantially on the same issue. The Supreme Court in the matter of State of Karnataka and Another vs. All India Manufacturers Organisation and Others reported in (2006) 4 SCC 683 has held:

“34. Explanation VI came up for consideration before this Court in Forward Construction Co. v. Prabhat Mandal (Regd.) (hereinafter “Forward Construction Co.”). This Court held that in view of Explanation VI, it could not be disputed that Section 11 applies to public interest litigation, as long as it is shown that the previous litigation was in public interest and not by way of private grievance. Further, the previous litigation has to be a bona fide litigation in respect of a right which is common and is agitated in common with others. 35. As a matter of fact, in a public interest litigation, the petitioner is not agitating his individual rights but represents the public at large. As long as the litigation is bona fide, a judgment in a previous public interest litigation would be a judgment in rem. It binds the public at large and bars any member of the public from coming forward before the court and raising any connected issue or an issue, which had been raised should have been raised on an earlier occasion by way of a public interest litigation. It cannot be doubted that the petitioner in Somashekar Reddy was acting bona fide. Further, we may note that, as a retired Chief Engineer, Somashekar Reddy had the special technical expertise to impugn the Project on the grounds that he did and so, he cannot be dismissed as a busybody. Thus, we are satisfied in principle that Somashekar Reddy, as a public interest litigation, could bar the present litigation.”

Hence, no ground is made out to issue any direction in this second writ petition.

That apart, it is also noted by the High Court that the petitioner-in-person, during the course of argument, has placed reliance upon the circular of the Medical Council of India dated 22nd April, 2015 issued on the basis of the judgment of the Supreme Court noted above, requesting the State Medical Councils to take cognizance of the directions of the Supreme Court and in case of any incident of strike by the doctors, to take necessary action.

The counsel for the State Medical Council has submitted that the said respondent will duly comply with the circular dated 22nd April, 2015.

“At this stage, there is no strike by the doctors. Hence, in the above circumstances, no further direction needs to be issued, therefore, we dispose of the present petition taking note of the earlier order of this Court as also the stand of the State Medical Council,” observed the Court.

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