Union Cabinet approves ordinance making violence against health workers a non-bailable offence; prison term up to 7 years for guilty, says Centre

The ordinance, which now awaits the assent of the President, amends the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 to make the offence non-bailable.

FP Staff April 22, 2020 17:34:34 IST
Union Cabinet approves ordinance making violence against health workers a non-bailable offence; prison term up to 7 years for guilty, says Centre

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved an ordinance aimed at preventing violence against health workers after several cases of assaults on doctors were reported during the coronavirus outbreak. The ordinance lays down a prison term between six months and seven years for those found guilty of such an assault.

The ordinance, which now awaits the assent of the President, amends the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 to make the offence non-bailable.

Union Cabinet approves ordinance making violence against health workers a nonbailable offence prison term up to 7 years for guilty says Centre

Union minister Prakash Javadekar addressing the media. Image courtesy: Twitte/@ANI

Presently, Section 3 of the Act only states that any person disobeying any order the law will be deemed to have committed an offence under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Section 188 of the IPC, in turn, deals with "disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant," and the offence is bailable and cognisable.

Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar made this announcement while addressing a news conference after a Cabinet meeting. Addressing the media, Javadekar said that as per the ordinance, investigation in cases of assaults on health workers will have to be completed within 30 days.

"If damage is done to the vehicles or clinics of healthcare workers, then a compensation amounting to twice the market value of the damaged property will be taken from the accused," Javadekar said.

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"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," he further asserted.

There have been multiple instances recently of health workers being attacked by families of patients and mobs. On 16 April, four persons were injured in Moradabad as a mob tried to stop a medical team from taking a coronavirus -infected man into isolation and hurled stones at the team's ambulance. On 14 April, a doctor was allegedly assaulted in Hyderabad by the son of a man under quarantine at a hospital here following a quarrel after two others in the ward tested positive for the infection.

Earlier in the day, the Indian Medical Association withdrew a protest that it had planned against assaults on some doctors and healthcare workers engaged in COVID-19 duties. This was after home minister Amit Shah interacted with the doctors and the IMA through video-conferencing and assured them full security.

Along with the ordinance putting in place stricter punitive measures, the Cabinet has also approved Rs 15,000 crore for ''India COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package". The package is to be utilised in three phases. For immediate COVID-19 Emergency Response, an amount of Rs. 7,774 Crore has been provisioned, and the remaining amount is for medium-term support (1-4 years)

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date:

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