Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Saturday that the West Bengal government had not invoked the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) even after five days of strike by the junior doctors and appealed to them to immediately rejoin service.
"We have the laws, but we do not want to use them.... We are not going to take any stringent action against any of the agitating junior doctors and hamper their career," she said at a news conference after the agitating doctors did not turn up for a meeting at 5 pm.
Under the ESMA, employees in a long list of "essential services" like post, railway, airport and port operations are prohibited from going on strike.
Banerjee cited instances of steps taken against doctors in similar situation by other states, adding that the West Bengal government had not taken any tough action against them as she does not want to hamper their careers.
The chief minister said the state government had accepted all the demands of the doctors and was ready to accept more, but she added that they must resume work.
"On Friday, I waited for the junior doctors for five hours. And today, I cancelled all my programmes for them. You must show some respect to the constitutional body," she said.
On the mass resignation of the doctors across the state, Banerjee said it was not legally tenable.
"If the junior doctors think I am incapable, they can always talk to the governor or the chief secretary... or the commissioner of police," she said.
The agitating doctors had earlier turned down an invite for a closed-door meeting with Banerjee at the state secretariat on Saturday, and instead asked her to visit the NRS Medical College and Hospital for an open discussion to resolve the impasse.