Government of India and the Protection of the Healthcare Sector
Due to the epidemic of the Novel Corona Virus also known as Covid-19, there have been various instances of Doctors and health care professionals who have been targeted and attacked by people in many states of the Nation and obstruct them from fulfilling their duties. These incidents have led to the cases of unwarranted violence and acts of harassment, still, the medical and health care personnel are not backing off from their duties and are giving their best to treat people in order to cure them of this deadly outbreak of Novel Corona Virus. Several states have enacted special laws to protect doctors and frontline workers from this violence and life-threatening attacks. Therefore, the government of India has passed an order to end those attacks and violence against the Doctors and health care professionals. The existing state laws do not cover a wide scope of protecting these frontline workers from the mongers. They generally do not cover harassment at the workplace and home and are more focused on physical violence only.
Violence, as defined in the said ordinance, will include harassment and physical injuries and damage to property. Healthcare service personnel include public and clinical healthcare providers such as doctors, nurses, paramedical workers, and community health workers and any other persons empowered under the act to take measures to prevent the outbreak of COVID-19.
The Union Cabinet passed an order on 22nd April 2020, in which persons attacking the doctors and health care personnel are to be sentenced to jail for 6 months to 7 years. In the cases which are non-serious, the offense will attract a penalty of Rs 50,000 and in serious cases, the fine to be paid will be between Rs 2 lakhs to Rs 5 lakhs. The amendment makes the acts of violence as cognizable and non-bailable.
In case of a serious incident – imprisonment for 6 months to 7 years or/and fine of Rs 2 lakhs- Rs 5 lakhs
In case of a nonserious incident – fine of Rs 50,000
On 23rd April 2020, The Indian Medical Association, declared this day as black day to protest against attacks and violence on the Doctors and Health professionals all over the country. They demanded that the central government shall punish the attackers and take action against the people causing violence on the doctors and health care workers. Though later the protest was withdrawn by the Indian Medical Association as the cabinet approved an ordinance to take strict actions against people causing violence.
The home ministry also directed states to appoint nodal officers to redress any safety issues on the functioning of medical personnel and take action under the Disaster Management Act,2005. The home ministry has assured the Doctors and health workers that the government would leave no stone unturned in ensuring their wellbeing and security.
The nodal officers at the state, Union Territories and District level would be available 24x7 to redress any safety issue on the functioning of medical personnel. The nodal officers shall take strict action in case of any serious or non-serious incidents.
In order to achieve this, the ordinance will make amendment to the Epidemic Disease Act,1897. Also, the government of India has made the Epidemic Act a concurrent act, which allows the state governments to take action as well. Offenses shall be investigated by an officer of the rank Inspector within a period of 30 days, and the trial has to be completed in one year unless extended by the court for reasons to be recorded in writing.
Times of India
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Yesha Raval is currently studying law at The Maharaja Sayajirao University,Faculty of law,Baroda
You can contact them at: https://www.instagram.com/yeshaaraval/
EDITOR- Drishti Saxena
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