7-year jail for attacking health workers, says governmentLast updated on Apr 22, 2020, 04:34 pm
Addressing a press conference after the Union Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar announced stricter laws for the protection of doctors and healthcare staff against violence.
The decision comes as attacks on healthcare professionals treating patients of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) have increased.
Under the ordinance, attacks on healthcare professionals have been made a non-bailable offense.
Here are more details.
Ordinance to amend Epidemic Diseases Act awaits President's assent
Javadekar announced that an ordinance has been promulgated to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897.
The ordinance has been sent to the President for approval. It will come into effect immediately with the President's assent.
Javadekar said there will be zero tolerance for attacks on health staff. The new law will cover doctors, nurses, health workers, attendants, and ASHA workers, he said.
What will be the punishment under stricter laws?
The ordinance proposes a jail time of three months to five years and a penalty of 50,000-2 lakh.
In violent attacks where health workers sustain grievous injuries, the ordinance proposes a jail time of six months to seven years and a penalty of Rs. 1-5 lakh.
If a health worker's property is damaged, twice the amount will be recovered from the perpetrator.
Cases to be investigated within a month
Acts of violence against healthcare workers will also be made cognizable, non-bailable offenses, said the Union Minister. The ordinance proposes completion of investigation within a month and a decision in a year's time.
Medical association had recently called a protest against violence
In recent times, health staff on the frontlines in the fight against COVID-19 have been facing attacks and harassment.
In light of the attacks, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) had called for a nationwide protest of health staff: a candlelight vigil on Wednesday, and a black badge protest on Thursday.
The association called off the protests after being approached by Home Minister Amit Shah.
Safety and dignity of our doctors non-negotiable: Shah
After his meeting with the IMA, Shah tweeted Wednesday morning, "Safety and dignity of our doctors at their workplace is non-negotiable."
He added, "It is our collective responsibility to ensure a conducive atmosphere for them at all times. I have assured doctors that the Modi government is committed to their cause and appealed to reconsider their proposed protest."
Ayushman Bharat beneficiaries to get free treatment
Javadekar also announced during the presser that Ayushman Bharat beneficiaries will get free treatment, for COVID-19 and other ailments, at non-empaneled hospitals.
The Health Ministry briefing will now only be held on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. On Wednesdays, a Union Cabinet briefing will be held.
The Union Cabinet has approved Rs. 15,000 crore for 'India COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package'