ATTACKING DOCTORS OR MEDICAL STAFF IS NOW A NON-BAILABLE OFFENCE

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After getting complaints of attacks from medical fraternity spiraled across the country, on 22nd April 2020, The Central Government brought in an ordinance to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 to make attacks on doctors and healthcare workers who are treating COVID-19 cases a cognizable and non-bailable offense.

Addressing the press conference, Union minister Prakash Javadekar, said that the Cabinet has cleared an ordinance, “to save health workers and other Corona warriors”. This amendment has been done with the view that, while the whole nation salutes the health workers and medical staffs who are helping in the battle against COVID-19, yet there are few who are attacking them, thinking they are spreading the virus. He said “we have zero tolerance and will not allow this in a civilized society," adding to this he also said that the amended Epidemic Act, a 120-year-old law, will protect doctors, nurses, health workers, attendants and also Aasha workers, Mr. Javadekar said. "Healthcare professionals will also be extended insurance cover,"

The Ordinance awards the following punishments:

  • In normal cases: the offense shall be punishable with imprisonment ranging from 3 months to 5 years, and penalty ranging from Rs 50,000 to 2 lakh.
  • In serious cases: the imprisonment may be for a minimum period of 6 months and maximum of 7 years, with a penalty ranging from Rs 1 lakh to 5 lakh
  • In case of damage to vehicles or clinics of doctors or healthcare workers, the perpetrators would have to pay double the market cost of the damaged asset as compensation.

As per the Ordinance, In case of attacks on doctors and healthcare workers, the investigation has to be conducted by a senior inspector and be completed within 30 days. Court proceedings related to these cases shall also be conducted in a time-bound manner, and have to be decided within a year.