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Ordinance making attack on doctors & medical staff punishable offence gets President’s nod

Ram Nath Kovind

President Ram Nath Kovind has given nod to an Ordinance brought by the government pertaining to attack on doctors and medical staff. The Ordinance which amends the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, considers violence against healthcare personnel a punishable offence. It also has provision for compensation for injury to healthcare service personnel or for causing damage or loss to property.

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“The president has given his assent for promulgation of the ordinance,” the Health Ministry said in a statement quoted by a PTI report, adding that commission or abetment of such acts of violence will be punishable with an imprisonment for a term of three months to five years, and with fine of Rs 50,000 to Rs 2,00,000.

In case of causing grievous hurt, imprisonment shall be for a term six months to seven years and with fine of Rs 1,00,000 to Rs 5,00,000.

The current ordinance is intended to ensure that during any situation akin to the current pandemic, there is zero tolerance to any form of violence against healthcare service personnel and damage to property, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

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“… some incidents of violence have taken place which has demoralized the medical fraternity. It is felt that separate and most stringent provisions for emergent times are needed to act as effective deterrents to any such incidents of violence,” the ministry said.

Violence as defined in the ordinance will include harassment and physical injury and damage to property.

“However, COVID-19 outbreak has posed a unique situation where harassment of the healthcare workforce and others working to contain the spread of the disease has been taking place at all fronts, in various places including even cremation grounds,” the statement said.

“It is hoped that this ordinance will have the impact of infusing confidence in the community of healthcare service personnel so that they can continue to contribute to serving mankind through their noble professions in the extremely difficult circumstances being witnessed during the current coronavirus infection outbreak,” the ministry said.

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