More of a law and order issue, the physical assault on doctors reflects that they are serving an uncivilized society. Such news is viewed by medical community anxiously and is definitely a poor advertisement for younger generation to take medicine as profession. The medical students need to think, why they wish to enter medical profession in such an unsupportive environment?
Strangely media, courts, prominent people, celebrities, human right commission, right activists are little concerned about the blatant injustice done towards doctors. This again brings forth the hypocrisy of our society and law enforcement agencies, which otherwise cry hoarse about human rights, but practically doctors (while they save others), need to fend for themselves when ugly situations arise.
NEW DELHI: The Central government has decided not to enact separate legislation for prohibiting violence against doctors and other healthcare professionals, the Rajya Sabha was informed on Tuesday.
In a written reply, Union Health Minister Dr Mansukh Mandaviya said that a draft of the Healthcare Services Personnel and Clinical Establishments (Prohibition of Violence and Damage to Property) Bill, 2019 was prepared and was also circulated for consultations.
“Thereafter it was decided not to enact a separate Legislation for prohibiting violence against doctors and other health care professionals,” he said to a question on the reasons for the withdrawal of the Bill, which intended to protect healthcare professionals and institutions.
Mandaviya said that the matter was further discussed with relevant ministries and departments of government as well as all stakeholders, and an ordinance namely The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 was promulgated on April 22, 2020.
However, the government, on September 28, 2020, passed the Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Act, 2020 under which acts of violence against healthcare personnel during any situation were considered cognizable and non-bailable offences.
Speaking with TNIE, Dr Rohan Krishnan, National Chairman, FAIMA Doctors Association, said that there have been many cases of violence against doctors and health professionals in the past few months inside the government hospitals, but the union health ministry has not taken their demand to have a separate law for providing safety and security to healthcare workers and doctors seriously.
“The government needed us during the Covid-19 pandemic and came out with rules and regulations. We also felt safe and secure. But now that Covid-19 is declining and we were able to bring normalcy, the government is showing its true colours. It is shameful,” he said.
“The government is not standing up to its promise of bringing a separate law to prohibit violence against doctors and healthcare professionals,” he added.
“On the one hand, it has failed to provide mental and physical safety and security to the doctors and healthcare professionals; on the other hand, instead of having verbal communication with us regarding this matter, the government is denying any scope of providing a separate law in the future. This is a very serious issue. We will raise this issue at every level,” Dr Krishnan said.
Under the Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Act, the commission or abetment of acts of violence or damage or loss to any property is punishable with imprisonment for a term of three months to five years, and with a fine of Rs 50,000 to Rs 2,00,000.
In case of causing grievous hurt, imprisonment shall be for a term of six months to seven years and with a fine of Rs 1,00,000 to Rs 5,00,000.
In addition, the offender shall also be liable to pay compensation to the victim and twice the fair market value for damage to property.
Since, law and order is a state subject, State, and Union Territory governments also take appropriate steps to protect healthcare professionals/institutions under provisions under the Indian Penal Code (IPC)/Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the minister said.
To another question on the number of security guards hired/outsourced by government hospitals in the country, the Minister of State for Health Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar said that public health and hospitals are state subjects, therefore no such data is maintained centrally.