In this on-going war against novel coronavirus, doctors, health care personnel, police officers are frontline workers. They are rendering their services wholeheartedly and giving their cent percent to save our lives, despite the fact that they themselves are exposed to this serious threat.
It is really very disheartening to see that in return for their services to mankind what they are receiving is hatred, violent attacks by some mischief mongers. In some cases, it has been seen that patients are spitting on them, are doing vulgar activities in front of them.
We all have been waiting for the past couple of weeks for some stringent laws to deal with these insolent and brainless people as existing laws do not have such a wide ambit. But finally our wait is over as on Wednesday, Union Cabinet has approved the promulgation of an ordinance to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897. Now any kind of violence against medical staff is a cognizable and non-bailable offense.
Ordinance says that from now onwards the attack on health workers will be a cognizable crime and there will be no bail in it. If an attack causes minor injury to a health worker, then the person found guilty may have to pay ₹50,000 to ₹2 lakhs rupees or he can be imprisoned for three months to five years. If an injury is serious then fine will be a minimum of ₹1 lakh to ₹ 2 lakhs and imprisonment of 6 months to 7 years. The ordinance will protect the whole health care fraternity, including, doctors, nurses, and ASHA workers. Another important provision of the ordinance is that police will have to complete the investigation of the attack within a month and the final decision will arrive in a year. Not only physical violence on health officials but this ordinance also includes attacks on hospitals, clinics, and other medical institutions.
After passing the ordinance, P.M Narendra Modi tweeted,” The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment), 2020 manifests our commitment to protect each and every health care worker who is bravely battling COVID-19 on the frontline.
This ordinance is intended to ensure that during any situation related to the current pandemic, there is zero-tolerance to any form of violence against health care personnel and damage to property.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) and doctors across the country welcomed the ordinance saying that it was a much-needed move.