The counter was filed in response to a batch of writ petitions filed by the doctors concerned, through their counsel C. Kanagaraj, challenging their transfer.
Advocate-General Vijay Narayan pressed for dismissal of all writ petitions. Mr. Narayan argued that the Supreme Court, in Rajendra Singh’s case (2009), had stated that courts should not interfere with transfer orders passed in public interest and for administrative reasons if there was no mala fide intention.
However, when the petitioner’s counsel claimed that those working under the Director of Medical Education (DME) could not be transferred by the DMS and vice-versa, the judge asked the A-G to get it clarified by Tuesday.
In her counter, Ms. Rethnavathi said the government health facilities in the State cater to over five lakh outpatients and 60,000 inpatients every day and 68% of child births in the State were handled by government healthcare institutions.
While taluk and district headquarters hospitals, categorised as secondary care institutions, fall under the administrative control of DMS, the tertiary care institutions such as medical colleges attached to government hospitals were under the control of DME.
There were more than 16,000 medical officers in Tamil Nadu Medical Service before 2009 and they did not have sufficient promotional opportunities.
Hence, at the request of Tamil Nadu Government Doctors Association (TNGDA), the government introduced time-bound career progression.
Although the government doctors were now paid as per the recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission, the DMS said, new demands were raised last year by a federation of a few “unrecognised” doctors’ associations.
Even as their demands were being considered, members of the Federation of Government Doctors’ Association (FOGDA) began an indefinite strike when there was a dengue outbreak across the State.
The strike commenced despite a warning issued by the government on October 18.
The doctors observed hunger strike inside the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital in Chennai and caused inconvenience to patients and other doctors who were not part of the protest. Further, the participants instigated other doctors too, Ms. Rethnavathi said.
“As per medical ethics, doctors should be selfless healers who are not really in it for money but care for the sick… Doctors are supposed to adhere to a professional code of conduct that prohibits them from participating in strikes,” she added.