COVID-19 | Govt rolls out ‘zero tolerance’ law to protect health workers from attacks

Union Minister Prakash Javedkar briefing media on Wednesday

The central government has brought an ordinance to end violence against health workers, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Wednesday.

Briefing the media after the Cabinet meeting, he said the ordinance carries imprisonment from 3 months to 5 years if anyone found guilty. While in case of serious injuries, the accused can be sentenced from 6 months to 7 years.

“We have brought an ordinance under which any attack on health workers will be a cognizable, non-bailable offence; jail up to 5 years,” he said

The Union Cabinet approved the ordinance to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 to provide strict punishments for attacks on doctors and healthcare workers.

There have been reports of doctors and health workers being abused, beaten and denied entry into residences. Earlier in April, health workers in Taatpatti Bakhal area of Madhya Pradesh’s Indore city were attacked by the people.

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Key takeaways from the briefing:

– Acts of violence against healthcare service personnel to be made cognisable, non-bailable offences.

– No incident of violence or harassment, against health workers will be tolerated. An ordinance has been brought in, it’ll be implemented after President’s sanction: Union Minister Javdekar

– In case of serious injuries, the accused can be sentenced from 6 months to 7 years. They can be penalised from Rs 1 lakhs to Rs 5 lakhs.

– In cases of attacks on healthcare workers, the investigation will be completed within 30 days and the final decision will be arrived at within one year.

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– Punishment for such attacks will be 3 months to 5 years and a fine of Rs 50,000 to Rs 2 lakh. In severe cases, where there are grievous injuries, the punishment will be 6 months to 7 years and a fine of Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh.

– If the 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.

– Health briefings will now be reduced to 4 days a week, press releases and Cabinet briefing on alternate days.

– No decision has been taken yet on the resumption of flight operations. An announcement will be made on time as to when it will resume: Javadekar

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