A policewoman outside a hospital on Tuesday.(HT)

The Bombay high court on Tuesday slammed the “no-show agitation” launched by resident doctors across Maharashtra, saying their irresponsible attitude depicts that they are fit only to be “ordinary factory workers” – not medical personnel entrusted with the task of saving human lives.

A division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice G S Kulkarni said this on the second day of the stir, which has hit lakhs of patients across the state. Over 4,000 resident doctors at government hospitals have stayed away from work since Monday to protest attacks by patients’ kin on their colleagues. They have refused to resume work unless the government provides them better security.

“If you (doctors) do not want to work, then resign. You are not factory workers who resort to such protests. Shame on you. How can doctors behave in such a manner?” asked Chief Justice Chellur. The bench was hearing a public interest litigation filed by social activist Afak Mandaviya.

The petitioner’s lawyer, Datta Mane, said the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) had assured the high court last year that doctors would not agitate in the future.

“If that is the case, the protesting doctors have committed contempt. The hospitals concerned should initiate action against them,” the court replied.

MARD, in its defence, told the bench that it played no role in organising the protest. The court then posted the petition for hearing on Wednesday, and directed the association to file an affidavit clarifying its stand.

While some resident doctors availed leave, others simply refused to turn up for work. They cited several cases of patients’ relatives attacking medical officers in charge to buttress their argument.

Though out-patient departments were affected by the agitation, senior doctors pitched in to ensure that emergency health services were provided to patients in a critical condition.

However, a MARD spokesperson said later in the day that nearly 3,000 resident doctors at 17 government hospitals across the state have decided to call off the agitation in view of the high court’s “strong observations”.

“We have always obeyed court orders. Therefore, we appeal to all resident doctors to report back to duty as soon as possible,” he told IANS.

(With agency inputs)