AMIDST the growing attacks on the health workers working in the fight against COVID-19, the Union Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi today approved the 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.
As per the Ordinance, the investigation into the incidents of attacks on doctors and healthcare workers has to be conducted and completed within 30 days. The final decision would arrive within a year thereafter.
The offence shall be punishable with imprisonment ranging from 3 months to 5 years, and penalty ranging from Rs 50,000 to 2 lakh.
In case of a very serious attack, the imprisonment may be for a minimum period of 6 months and a maximum of 7 years, with a penalty ranging from Rs 1 lakh to 5 lakh.
On April 8, 2018, the Supreme Court had directed the Central Government and the respective States/Union Territories and respective Police authorities to provide the necessary Police security to the Doctors and medical staff in hospitals and places where patients who have been diagnosed COVID-19 or patients suspected of COVID-19 or those quarantined are housed.
Following the apex court’s order, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on April 11, had asked all States/UTs to provide necessary Police Security to Doctors and Medical Staff fighting COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the Union Home Secretary Home has written to all the States/UTs to ensure adequate security to healthcare professionals, medical staff & frontline workers to prevent violence against them. He has asked for strict action to be taken against those who obstruct the performance of last rites of COVID Warriors succumbing to COVID19.