New Delhi: Acting tough on incidents of violence against doctors and nurses tending to COVID-19 patients, the Union Cabinet under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Wednesday, approved an ordinance to make attack on health workers a cognizable and non-bailable offence.
The ordinance, with Amendment to the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, provides for jail term from 6 months to 7 years and a hefty fine for the accused.
Addressing a press conference to brief media on the Cabinet decisions, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said ,’Health workers who are trying to save the country from this epidemic are unfortunately facing attacks. No incident of violence or harassment against them will be tolerated. Be it harassment or criminal offence in form of violence, zero tolerance will be shown.
‘We will not allow this to happen in this civilised society. An ordinance has been brought in to make attack on health workers a cognizable, non-bailable offence. Amendment is to be made to Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 . This will protect the entire health fraternity.’
Mr Javadekar said that under the new law, any attack on doctors or health workers will be liable to a penalty of anywhere between Rs 50,000 and Rs 2 lakh in non-serious cases and Rs 2 lakh to Rs 5 lakh for serious offences, where there are reports of serious injury.
In addition to this, there will also be a jail term. “Any attack on doctors or health workers will be liable to a penalty of anywhere between Rs 50,000 and Rs 2 lakh in non-serious cases and Rs 2 lakh to Rs 5 lakh for serious offences, where there are reports of serious injury.
In addition to this, there will also be a jail term — a minimum of 6 months and up to 5 years for non-serious offences and up to 7 years for serious cases. This will be a non-bailable offence,” Mr Javadekar said.
The amended Epidemic Act will protect doctors, nurses, health workers, attendants and also ASHA workers.
“Healthcare professionals will also be extended insurance cover,” he said.
Under the act, a probe into the cases of such attacks will be completed within 30 days.’Judgement will be given in maximum 1 year,” the Minister said.
The ordinance will now be sent to the President for his approval.