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Supreme Court warns striking doctors
Legal Correspondent

This court has laid down in two earlier judgements that once it is seized of the matter, any demonstration, strike and speech (on that issue) may attract contempt of courts.

New Delhi, May 30
Concerned over the plight of patients due to ongoing strike by medicos on the Centre’s decision to introduce 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in Central institutions of higher learning, the Supreme Court today held a stern warning to them to end their 19-day-old stir after it had taken cognisance of the matter or else they might face action for contempt of court.

As a vacation Bench of Mr Justice Arijit Pasayat and Mr Justice Lokeshwar Singh Panta assembled for the day, in a surprised move it asked the Additional Solicitor-General about the situation on the agitation front.

Before he could respond to the query, the Bench announced that it was taking suo motu notice of the ongoing strike on the reservation issue in spite of a clear indication given yesterday by the court that they should end the stir in public interest.

The Bench directed Additional Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam to submit a memorandum on behalf of the Centre tomorrow at 10.30 a.m., detailing the steps taken by the government till date to end the agitation and the latest situation.

On one hand the court assured the agitators that it would “take care” of the interests of all parties, while on the other it issued a stern warning to them that if they continued with the strike, they were in for a surprise.

“This court has laid down in two earlier judgements that once it is seized of the matter, any demonstration, strike and speech (on that issue) may attract contempt of courts,” the Bench said, holding a clear warning to the agitators.

The court said it had yesterday appealed to doctors to call off their agitation hoping that good sense would prevail on them. “Surprisingly, the contrary is happening. At present we are not concerned with the government policy, but with the plight of people. Patients approaching hospitals for treatment are getting adversely affected and are being left at the mercy of God.”

When the Additional Solicitor-General sought a clarification from the court whether the government could continue with the negotiations with the agitating doctors when the matter had become “sub-judice”, the Bench said “you are free to make an effort on our part to resolve the issue.”

On getting a clearance from the court in this regard, Mr Subramaniam assured that the government would continue with its dialogue with the agitators to find a solution.

The protesting doctors and students’ leaders immediately went into a huddle as the news about court’s suo motu notice reached them and approached their lawyers to seek legal advice about the follow-up action.

Mr Subramanim later told mediapersons that the orders passed by the court today and yesterday would be sent to Health Secretary P.K. Hota during the day after they were available.


Medicos adamant on continuing strike
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 30
Following a marathon meeting with legal experts, medicos agitating against reservation have decided not to call off their strike, even as they risk contempt of court.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed displeasure over the continuance of strike by medicos, despite its appeal to call it off.

The medicos on their part claimed that they had studied the court order and it does not directly say that the strike should be called off.

Members of the Youth for Equality said they do not wish to be disrespectful to the apex court, but following the advice of their legal experts they have decided to continue their strike.

Taking note of the unyielding attitude of the medicos the government has announced its decision to call doctors from the Army and Railways and recruit new ones to restore health services.

Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss, following his meeting with the Prime Minister, said steps would be taken to maintain the services, which may also include fresh recruitment.

“We are going to maintain services in the hospitals from tomorrow, come what may,” he said.

The minister, however, ruled out the possibility of invoking the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA). He also said steps were being taken to open six new AIIMS-like institutions in the country.

The government had begun work on the proposal, which had been pending for a few years, he added.

Meanwhile, health services in the Capital remained affected as doctors of the state-run Guru Teg Bahadur, Sucheta Kriplani, Lok Nayak Jaiprakash and Maulana Azad Medical College went on a day’s mass casual leave. Doctors in the AIIMS joined the agitating student on a 24-hour fast.

A complete bandh has been called by the Delhi Medical Association for tomorrow.

DMA president K.K. Kapur said they would organise the bandh, since they have not received any notice from the Supreme Court to cancel it. The DMA has urged the nursing homes, clinics, laboratories and individual members to close their OPDs and planned surgeries tomorrow.

Students from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi University and IIT persisted with their demands and carried forth the agitation.

While a number of students in JNU have begun a fast, students in Delhi University took out a rally. The IIT students, who were also scheduled to begin a fast in the Capital, have, however, decided to “work out different strategy in the wake of the Supreme Court’s directive”, said students.

Meanwhile, a motorcycle rally was organised from the University College of Medical Sciences, passing through various medical colleges and culminating at the AIIMS.

Besides, the Oversight Committee on Reservation, set up by the Centre under the chairmanship of former Karnataka Chief Minister M. Veerappa Moily, held its first meeting today.

Mr Moily said the committee had been set up to prepare a road map with a time-bound programme to implement 27 per cent reservation for OBCs without compromising merit and addressing apprehensions aired by students.


New loan scheme for OBC students on anvil
Tripti Nath
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 30
The Congress-led UPA government has “agreed in principle” to a demand by the All-India Minorities Front (AIMF) to give study loan returnable within 10 years of getting a job to needy OBC (Other Backward Class) students seeking admission to professional courses in higher education institutions.

As per the present provision, the National Backward Finance and Development Corporation of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment gives loan up to Rs 3 lakh to students offered admission in various professional courses at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

As per the existing terms and conditions, a student has to return the loan six months after completing the course or getting a job, whichever comes earlier.

The Corporation also gives loans to aspiring OBC entrepreneurs.

Mr S.M. Asif, President of the AIMF, told TNS here on Tuesday that Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has agreed in principle to his proposed scheme to give study loans to needy OBC students. According to the proposal, the loan amount given to OBC students selected for a professional course in higher education institutions should be sanctioned on signing a bond. The student should give an undertaking that he would repay the amount to the government within 10 years of getting a job.

Asif has proposed that the person who borrows the amount should be required to serve in the country in a government set-up.

The AIMF President said the implementation of the proposed scheme would ensure that needy and meritorious OBC students are not denied admission to courses of their choice for want of tuition fee.

He said that he was disappointed when a meritorious student was selected for MBBS at Patna Medical College some years back but could not get admission as he did not have the money to pay the fees.

Mr A.A. Naqvi, Chairman and Managing Director of the National Backward Finance and Development Corporation, told TNS that the Corporation has already got education and income generation loan schemes for members of backward classes living below the poverty line.

He however did not comment on the proposal made by the AIMF to the Prime Minister.


Bukhari for quota in government jobs
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 30
The Shahi Imam of Delhi has threatened to go on an agitation to elicit the government’s attention to his cause.

Expressing concern over the “woeful” attitude of the government towards the minority community, the Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid today threatened to launch a nationwide agitation to press for a special economic package for riot-hit Muslims and reservation in government jobs.

In a letter to the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, the Shahi Imam said the minority community would be forced to hit the streets like the agitating medicos to get the government to agree to their demands.

He said a delegation had met the PM last month and presented a memorandum demanding an economic package for riot-hit Muslims on the line of one given to victims of 1984 anti-Sikh riots and reservation of jobs for Muslims in central and state governments.

The Imam said he had till date received no information about the initiatives being taken by the government over the demands. Noting that the government had agreed to the demands of anti-quota medicos by increasing the seats in higher education sector, which would incur an extra burden on the exchequer, he said that though he welcomed such a decision he was concerned that the government’s attitude towards Muslims was woeful.

In the memorandum submitted to Mr Singh, the delegation had also demanded immediate release of Muslims detained under Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) in Gujarat and Maharashtra.

They also sought an immediate halt to alleged atrocities on Muslims in Assam on plea of checking foreign nationals, restoration of the minority status for Aligarh Muslim University, unconditional talks with ‘popular and responsible’ leaders of Kashmir and evacuation of illegal occupants from Waqf properties.


Pro-quota students to sue Shiv Khera
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 30
Students in favour of reservation have begun to step up their efforts to counter the anti-reservation protests. A section of students in Jawaharlal Nehru University have strongly objected to the comments made by motivation guru Shiv Khera against former President K. R. Narayanan.

“Shiv Khera came on the campus last week and spoke derogatorily about the former President, late K. R. Narayanan, who was from the reserved section. He said the former President made a lot of money, which he couldn’t even count and his children have benefited from the reservation policy, whereas they didn’t need quotas,” said Bertin, a student, who is spearheading the pro-quota movement.

“We have collected signatures and we will file a complaint with the SC/ST Commission, the Prime Minister and the President’s office and also file a defamation suit against Khera in the Delhi High Court,” Bertin said.

The students are peeved that the motivation guru who has been in the forefront of the anti-quota movement has “implied that the former President was corrupt”.

Meanwhile, the JNU Students’ Union has also begun preparations for a large-scale pro-quota movement. “We will organise a human chain at India Gate on June 2, we are in the process of mobilising support for reservation,” said Arani, joint secretary, JNUSU.

She said the media and the masses at large were getting the incorrect impression that there were “anti- quota sentiments in JNU”.

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