Paying heed to an urgent demand and call for protests from medical fraternity following incidents where doctors and medical staff were attacked across the country, the Indian government on Wednesday issued an ordinance making violence against healthcare workers a non-bailable offence. Any violence against health workers may now bring steep fines and even imprisonments of up to seven years.
From now on, not just such violence is cognizable but also non-bailable offence. Additionally, it has provisions to provide compensation for injury to healthcare service personnel or for causing damage or loss to the property, the government said on Wednesday.
In a video call, Prakash Javadekar, minister of information and broadcasting says, “This actually helps protect the entire health fraternity including doctors, nurses, paramedics up to ASHA workers. Attack on these corona virus (COVID19) warriors will not be tolerated. The cabinet approved promulgation of ordinance to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 making such acts of violence as cognizable and non-bailable offences and to provide compensation for injury to healthcare service personnel or for causing damage or loss to the property.”
#Cabinet approves promulgation of Ordinance to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 making such acts of violence as cognizable and non-bailable offences and to provide compensation for injury to healthcare service personnel or for causing damage or loss to the property pic.twitter.com/bzB0VMVVUs— PIB India #StayHome #StaySafe (@PIB_India) April 22, 2020
“The ordinance would help protect healthcare service personnel and their living and working premises against violence,” the minister added. The amendment has ensured that the investigation takes place in a time-bound manner. A special provision is also made in the ordinance in case vehicles or clinics are damaged. In such cases, two times the cost will be recovered from assailants. Earlier, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) had given a call for “White Alert” protest on 22nd April and Black Day on 23 April 2020 to “maintain unity and integrity of our country”. However, post a video meeting with union home minister Amit Shah, the association decided to call off the protests. Allaying all concerns of the medical fraternity regarding their security in the fight against Coronavirus, the home minister assured them that the Modi government would leave no stone unturned in ensuring their wellbeing and security. Mr Shah strongly condemned the recent attacks on health professionals and said that PM is closely following all issues and concerns of doctors. All necessary arrangements would be put in place to prevent such incidents in future, he said. He appealed to doctors not to do even a symbolic protest as proposed by them, as it is not in national or global interest. The IMA in a statement expressed satisfaction stating they are convinced with the assurances. “It is expressed that in this period of global crisis…such protest will send a bad signal of the unity of our country…,”said the IMA. Union minister for health and family welfare, Dr Harshvardhan also interacted with doctors and senior representatives of IMA during the video meeting.
I thank Indian Medical Association for withdrawing their protest after meeting with Union Home Minister @AmitShah & me via VC today
We have assured #IMA that govt is committed to ensuring full safety & protection to doctors as well as all frontline health workers#CoronaWarriors pic.twitter.com/cRyZh9dUrJ— Dr Harsh Vardhan (@drharshvardhan) April 22, 2020