Yesterday, the Mumbai Mayor issued the striking doctors an ultimatum, saying unless they join work by last evening, legal action will be taken against them. The government is also negotiating with the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors, which, besides security, has also demanded a pay hike.
The doctors did not report to work since Sunday in protest against two incidents reported from Dhule and Mumbai's Sion hospital, where the relatives of patients attacked the doctors in-charge.
Last November, doctors in Delhi's Safdarjung Hospital went on a three-day strike, demanding better security at work after a colleague was manhandled by the relatives of a patient. The hospital later said it would appoint marshals to handle any security issue.
While doctors and nurses come under the Essential services Maintenance Act, the violation of which can involve prosecution, this is rarely invoked. Last year with dengue and chikungunya ravaging Delhi, the government had declared a strike by 20,000 nurses illegal under ESMA.
The law, the use of which depends on the discretion of state governments, has been in place in Maharashtra since 2012.
The matter came up before the Bombay High Court, as an activist filed a petition asking the court to order the doctors to return to work immediately. The petition is likely to be heard today.