In the light of the rising incidents of violence and discrimination against healthcare workers amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, the government has promulgated an ordinance to facilitate punishment under the law in such cases, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan informed on Wednesday. Taking to Twitter, the Health Minister stated that the government has decided to promulgated an ordinance to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897 in the light of the pandemic situation of COVID-19. The Health Minister also stated that such incidents against the medical personnel have played havoc with their confidence.
The government has decided to promulgate an Ordinance to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897 in the light of the pandemic situation of #COVIDー19 . This will facilitate punishment under the law in cases of violence against healthcare service personnel serving during an epidemic. pic.twitter.com/D6FGSvFax9— Dr Harsh Vardhan (@drharshvardhan) April 22, 2020
Public venting of angst against healthcare service personnel leading to harassment,assault & damage to property is being highlighted daily.Portrayal as potential spreaders of #COVID19Pandemic played havoc with the confidence of the medical community which is demanding protection. pic.twitter.com/vhdgtjpTd2— Dr Harsh Vardhan (@drharshvardhan) April 22, 2020
He further added that this will facilitate punishment under the law in cases of violence against healthcare service personnel serving during an epidemic. This comes after the Indian Medical Association (IMA) had declared a Black Day on April 23 and called for a protest while working on April 22. The protest has, however, been called off after Union Home Minister and Health Minister assured the association of prompt action. While declaring the protest, the IMA had demanded an ordinance to punish those inciting violence against doctors by law.
If convicted, the accused can be sentenced from 3 months to 5 years in prison and penalised from Rs 50,000 upto Rs 2 Lakh based on the gravity of offense. In case of grievous injuries, the accused can be sentenced from 6 months to 7 years and they can be penalised from Rs 1 Lakh to Rs 5 Lakhs.
In addition, if any 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. Javadekar said that there were rising demands to make a special law in this regard, other than provisions already present under other Acts like IPC, NSA, Disaster Management Act, among others.
Earlier in the day, Home Minister Amit Shah praised the doctors and said that the way our doctors are performing their duties in these testing times is "exceptional."
"Safety and dignity of our doctors at their workplace are non-negotiable. It is our collective responsibility to ensure a conducive atmosphere for them at all times. I have assured doctors that Modi govt is committed to their cause and appealed to reconsider their proposed protest," the Home Minister added.
With 1383 new cases and 50 deaths reported in the last 24 hours, India's total number of positive COVID-19 cases stands at 19,984, said the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Wednesday. The total number of cases include 15,474 active cases and 640 deaths. As many as 3,869 people have been recovered so far while one has migrated.