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Health Ministry to pursue legislation to check violence against doctors

Confirming the developments, a senior health ministry official said, "We will pursue it. We will again send it to them"

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Harsh Vardhan
The health ministry had intended to introduce the bill during the winter session of Parliament, which ended on December 13.

The Union has decided to pursue a proposed legislation to check violence against doctors and other healthcare professionals despite the Home Ministry opposing it holding there cannot be a separate law to protect members of a particular profession.

The Health Services Personnel and Clinical Establishments (Prohibition of Violence and Damage to Property) Bill, 2019, which seeks to punish people who assault on-duty doctors and other healthcare professionals by imposing a jail term of up to 10 years was dismissed by the Home Ministry during an inter-ministerial consultation over the draft law.

In his address at the 20th convocation ceremony of Board of Examinations, Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey said that the government is concerned over rising instances of attacks on doctors on duty.

He said the government was committed to the safety and security of medical professionals and will soon bring in a central law to curb assault on them.

When asked, Union Health Minister on the sidelines of the event also asserted that the bill was still "under discussion" and not put on the backburner.

Confirming the developments, a senior official said, "We will pursue it. We will again send it to them."

The call for a comprehensive central legislation to put a check on violence against healthcare professionals gained momentum against the backdrop of rising instances of such cases and damage to the property of clinical establishments across the country.

The had intended to introduce the bill during the winter session of Parliament, which ended on December 13.

The Law Ministry had approved the draft bill, but the Home Ministry, during inter-ministerial consultations over it, stated that there cannot be a separate legislation to check violence against members of a specific profession.

It also said the IPC and CrPC are sufficient to deal with such cases.

"Over the time, members of other fraternity like lawyers and police may also demand for an exclusive law to safeguard their interests," the official said.

The draft bill proposed imprisonment between three and 10 years and imposition of fines between Rs 2 lakh to Rs 10 lakh for "grievously hurting" doctors and other healthcare professionals.

Those commissioning violence or causing damage to the property of a healthcare facility can be imprisoned for six months to five years and fined between Rs 50,000 and Rs 5 lakh, it had proposed.

The draft bill also had provisions for compensation which could be twice the market value of a property damaged and Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh for being assaulted or hurt, sources said.

In case of non-payment of compensation by a convict, the amount may be recovered as arrears of land revenue under the Revenue Recovery Act, 1890.

Healthcare professionals include doctors, paramedical staff and also medical students, diagnostic service providers in a health facility and ambulance drivers.

The Health Ministry had entrusted an 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, with the task of drafting the bill.

First Published: Tue, December 24 2019. 18:40 IST
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