Coronavirus pandemic: Up to 7 years in jail for attack on doctors, health workers; Centre brings ordinance

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Updated: Apr 22, 2020 3:54 PM

Modi government has promulgated an ordinance to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 to add stringent provisions to punish those attacking health workers who are at the frontline of the country's fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Cabinet clears ordinance on protecting health workers from attacks: Union minister Prakash Javadekar.

Adopting zero tolerance towards instances of attacks on doctors and health workers at the frontline of the country’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic, the Centre on Tuesday promulgated an ordinance to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, to add stringent provisions to punish those found guilty of such crimes. Addressing the media after a Union Cabinet meet, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said that the government will not spare those attacking health warriors.

The revised rules provide for a jail term ranging from six months to 7 years for those found guilty of attacking doctors and health workers. Significantly, the offence of attacking doctors and health workers will now be non-bailable.

Javadekar said that it is unfortunate that the health workers who are trying to protect the country from the epidemic are facing attacks. “No incident of violence or harassment against them will be tolerated,” he said. “An ordinance has been brought in, it will be implemented after President’s sanction,” Javadekar added.

Such crime will now be cognizable and non-bailable. Investigation will be done within 30 days. Accused can be sentenced from 3 months to five years and penalised from Rs 50,000 upto Rs 2 lakh,” he said, adding that in case of grievous injuries, the convicts could face jail term from 6 months to 7 years.

“They can be penalised from Rs 1 lakhs to Rs 5 lakhs,” the minister said.

He said that the investigation in such cases will be done within 30 days and the final judgement will be delivered within a year.

Javadekar said that ASHA workers who are working at par with other health workers will also be covered under the law.

Javadekar informed that if damage is done to the vehicles or clinics of healthcare workers, then a compensation amounting to twice the market value of the damaged property will be taken from the accused.

Earlier today, Union Home Minister Amit Shah interacted with a group of doctors and representatives of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and appreciated their good work besides assuring them security. This comes amid reports of attacks on healthcare workers and assaults on some doctors engaged in COVID-19 duties in different parts of the country.

Shah appreciated their good work and assured them full security. Besides, he also appealed to them to not do even a symbolic protest as the government is with the doctors,

The IMA was planning to stage protests against assaults on some doctors and healthcare workers engaged in COVID-19 duties.

There have been reports of doctors being abused, beaten and denied entry into residences.

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