New Delhi, January 13-Despite the stand of Home Ministry against a separate law to protect members of a particular profession, the Union Health Ministry has taken upon itself the task of introducing a Bill to protect doctors from violence.
In the light of rising incidences of assault on doctors, Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey came forward to share his thoughts on the issue. While addressing the convocation ceremony of National Board of Examinations, he expressed deep concerns over the matter of lack of safety of doctors by saying that the Health Ministry is committed protect medical professionals from such assault and a central law will soon be brought to stop the violence.
According to report in Business Standard, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan also hinted that the Bill is still “under discussion”, while another health ministry official said, “We will pursue it. We will send to them again.”
Earlier, the Home Ministry had dismissed The Health Services Personnel and Clinical Establishments (Prohibition of Violence and Damage to Property) Bill, 2019, stating that a separate legislation to check violence against member of a particular profession cannot be brought and that the IPC and CrPC are sufficient to deal with such cases.
Interestingly, this came after the Law Ministry had given its approval to the draft Bill.
The Bill seeks to protect the on-duty doctors and other health professionals from acts of violence and carries provisions of stringent punishment for culprits by proposing to impose a 10 year long jail term.
Many doctors and healthcare professionals have openly spoken on the issue of increasing cases of violence against doctors and damaging property of medical establishments all over the country, calling for a comprehensive central legislation to put a check on it.
The Bill seeks to cover healthcare professionals including doctors, paramedical staff and also medical students, diagnostic service providers in a health facility and ambulance drivers.
The task of drafting the bill was entrusted to eight-member sub-committee, comprising its officials and representatives from the Medical Council of India, Indian Medical Association, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences’ Resident Doctors Association and an experienced person from the Bureau of Police Research and Development.
While speaking to Healthwire, many doctors has expressed that the Bill should be introduced in the upcoming Union Health Budget session.
Dr. Mohsin Wali, personal physician to the President of India said, “The incidences of assault on doctors should be made an unbailable and punishable crime. That Bill needs to be passed in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. The government should protect the interest of the doctors who are serving.”
“A strong Bill has to be passed so that we can avoid any untoward incident,” Dr. Sachin Kathuria, Consultant Neurologist, Sir Ganga Ram Hospitals had told Healthwire.
Provisions of the Bill
Envisaging strict and exemplary punishment, the draft bill proposes the following–
Three and 10 years of imprisonment and position of fines between Rs 2 lakh to Rs 10 lakh for “grievously hurting” doctors and other healthcare professionals.
Imprisonment for six months to five years and fine between Rs 50,000 and Rs 5 lakh for those commissioning violence or causing damage to the property of a healthcare facility.
In case of property damaged, the convicts will have to pay compensation twice the market value of a property damaged.
On assaulting or hurting a medical professional a compensation of Rs 1 lakh to Rs. 5 lakh will have to be paid by the convicts.
In case a convict fails to pay the compensation, the Bill proposes that the amount will be recovered as arrears of land revenue under the Revenue Recovery Act, 1890.