After the doctors chose to return to their posts in emergency wards of hospitals across the province, the Lahore High Court paved the way for the protesting doctors to completely end their strike of indoor and out patient departments after it suspended all government actions including termination, suspension and show cause notices to protesting doctors.
On Saturday the LHC also issued fresh orders for doctors to completely end their strike at indoor and out patient departments by Sunday.
On Friday Justice Ijazul Ahsan of the LHC had directed doctors part of the Young Doctors Association (YDA) to end their strike at emergency wards, the doctors had subsequently complied. Justice Ahsan on Friday directed the committee constituted by the Punjab government to resolve the issue and to submit its recommendations on the issue within two weeks. He asked the AAG to ensure submission of the minutes of the meetings to be held by the said committee and also directed to include young doctors’ representatives in the committee.
During the course of arguments, the law officer asked the young doctors that will they end their strike completely if the four arrested doctors were released? However, YDA president and general secretary remained reluctant to give any assurance to this effect, even when the court repeated the question.
Additional advocate general Faisal Zaman further argued that the matter related to the service structure for the young doctors was sub-judice before the Supreme Court, therefore, the LHC should delay its directions on the issue. He said a committee made by the SC had already submitted its proposed service structure.
On apprehensions frequently expressed by the young doctors, Justice Ahsan remarked that the court will not allow any illegal action. “The courts are independent and this time we will make a new history,” he said. The judge further observed that the demand of the young doctors for service structure was not illogical.
After the LHC decision, YDA president Hamid Butt and general secretary Nasir Butt while talking to the media out of the court room said that general council of Young Doctors Association will decide whether to comply with the order of the Lahore High Court about ending the strike completely from Monday or otherwise.
Advocate Azhar Siddique, the counsel for petitioner, termed this statement of YDA representatives as contempt of court and announced to file a contempt of court petition on Monday if the young doctors failed to obey the LHC order.
During the court’s proceedings on Saturday, the counsel for YDA Advocate Raja Zulqarnain told the court that the government has continued to harass the young doctors despite the court orders clearly warning the government against it on Friday.
He alleged that after Friday’s proceedings, the government issued show cause notices to protesting doctors and also terminated many of them. He claimed that the act of the government was tantamount to contempt of court.
Additional advocate general Faisal Zaman refuted the allegations and said that the show cause notices and termination letters were issued to the doctors on Friday morning before the court’s directions.
He argued that all actions taken by the government were lawful and under PEEDA Act. He said after the court’s restraining order, the Punjab health secretary had issued a notification mentioning the LHC order and forwarded it to the home secretary, CCPO Lahore and other concerned departments.
Justice Ijazul Ahsan asked the YDA’s counsel to file a separate petition against the alleged harassment and the court said it will pass an order if the government is found guilty of violation.
Against murder case of a minor at Mayo Hospital, Advocate Zulqarnain argued that after Punjab health care commission act, doctors could not be booked under section 302 of the PPC. He said in case of a patient’s death, the matters had to be referred to the commission for investigation before registration of any case. The case could only be lodged under section 322 of the PPC. He asked the court to quash the murder case registered against the doctors of Mayo Hospital.
At this Zaman told the court that the section 322 of PPC applied in case a patient died during medical treatment however in this case, the patient lost died due to denial of medical treatment.
He pointed out that minor boy Fahad was laid to rest without an autopsy and the police was trying to exhume the body so that the cause of death could be determined.
On request of the counsel of victim’s father, the judge ordered the government to constitute a medical board to supervise the exhumation process and postmortem.
The court also directed the investigating officer to submit a charge sheet by Monday against the doctors involved in the murder case.
The judge adjourned further hearing till Monday (July 9) and directed the AAG to come up with arguments on the point whether murder case under section 302 of PPC against doctors could be lodged. He asked YDA’s counsel to file a separate petition for cancellation of the murder FIR.
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