Considering the frequent complaints and attacks against the medical fraternity, the central government has brought in an ordinance to make acts of violence against doctors and other medical staff as a cognizable and non-bailable offence.

In his recent press conference, Union Minister Prakash Javedkar announced the Cabinet decision approving the promulgation of Ordinance to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897.

Union minister Prakash Javedkar
Union minister Prakash Javedkar

New ordinance to amend the Act

The new ordinance amends the Epidemic Diseases Act making attacks on doctors, paramedic staff, and ASHA workers a non-bailable offence under punishable up to seven years in prison and fine of up to Rs 5 lakhs.

It also demands a police investigation on the case within a month's time. The case will be then fast-tracked with the final judgment to come within a year.

"The central government has brought an ordinance to end violence against health workers. It carries imprisonment from 6 months to 7 years if anyone is found guilty," said the Union Minister.
In addition to this, those found vandalising the private clinic or a car belonging to a doctor will be asked to pay twice the market value of these assets.

The centre's decision comes a day after the Indian Medical Association's demand to the Centre to bring in a law on an urgent basis to protect medical professionals from attack while on duty.

Attacks against health workers increase

Many such cases of abuse have been reported against doctors and ASHA workers who were working in the frontline to fight against Covid-19.

ASHA workers
ASHA workers attacked

The ASHA workers who went to collect data on the sick patients in Bengaluru were recently attacked by a minority community.

The IMA has also asked all the doctors and hospitals across the country to light candles on Wednesday as a protest against such attacks.

"Light a candle with white coat. White Alert is only a warning," the IMA said in a letter addressed to its doctors and hospitals.

"The COVID-19 has only made us acutely aware of our helplessness against mindless abuse and violence. Stigma and social boycott are everywhere. Harassment by administration is nothing but violence by the state. Our legitimate needs for safe workplaces have to be met," IMA said in the letter addressed to all State Presidents and Secretaries, Local branch Presidents and Secretaries and all National office-bearers along with past National Presidents and Past HSGs.