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Refer medicos' issues to expert panel: court

By Our Legal Correspondent

HYDERABAD, JAN. 21. A Division Bench of the High Court, comprising the Chief Justice Devinder Gupta and Justice G. Rohini, on Wednesday indicated that the issues raised by junior doctors be referred to a committee of experts and posted the case to Friday.

The Bench was hearing arguments in a writ petition filed by a practising advocate seeking a declaration that the strike is unconstitutional. The petitioner complained that the strike had affected the health services and that the Government had not acted promptly. The petition had first come up for hearing in the first week of this month. The Bench took note of the seriousness of the situation and indicated that the issues raised by junior doctors be referred to the committee. The Bench made it clear that for the committee to look into the matter and thrash out the issues the agitation should be suspended. It was made clear that no formal orders were being passed today.

The Bench said junior doctors could respond to the suggestion by Friday. At this juncture, counsel appearing for junior doctors said the Government was resorting to "coercive steps'' to break the strike. The Bench inquired about the situation with the Additional Advocate-General who was present.

He said he would be advising the Government appropriately keeping in view the suggestions made by the court.

Our Staff Reporter adds:

The Joint Action Committee of the Andhra Pradesh Junior Doctors' Association, which is spearheading the strike, claimed that no official intimation on the suspension of 10 medicos, as reported in a section of the press, was received by it.

A spokesman of the committee expressed confidence that there would not be any more suspensions in view of the High Court ruling directing the Government not to resort to any coercive acts like suspensions. He welcomed the court order asking the Government to constitute a committee to resolve the issues arising out of the strike. He said the indefinite relay hunger-strikes by JAC members were continuing in different parts of the State.

Meanwhile, the CPI and three other Left organisations while condemning the Government action called for withdrawal of the suspension of junior doctors and holding of discussions.

S. Sudhakar Reddy, CPI secretary, in a statement, blamed the Principal Secretary, Health, S. Bhale Rao, for the failure of the Government-JAC talks.

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