Upto 7 years in jail for attacking Covid warriors, govt brings in ordinance
New Delhi: The central government on Wednesday brought in an ordinance under which any person who attacks a health worker who is treating Covid-19 cases can be jailed for a maximum of seven years.
The ordinance was brought in to amend the century old Epidemic Act.
Addressing a press conference, Union minister Prakash Javdekar said the ordinance has been brought in to “save health workers and other corona warriors”.
Under the new law, attack on health workers is a cognisable and non-bailable offence.
For timely action, the ordinance stipulates a period of 30 days under which investigation on attack against health workers must be completed. It says the verdict in such cases should be delivered within one year.
The ordinance awards the following punishments:
Jail term: 3 months to 5 years
Fine: Rs 50,000 to Rs 2 lakh.
Jail term: 6 months to 7 years
Fine: Rs 1 lakh to Rs 7 lakh.
In case damage is caused to the vehicles and clinics of health workers, the guilty will be made to pay a fine which is double the market rate of the property damaged.
This move comes a day after the Indian Medical Association demanded the Centre to bring in a law on urgent basis to protect medical professionals from attack on duty. This demand was amid rising incidents of violence against healthcare workers on the frontline of the fight against Covid-19.
The IMA also asked doctors and hospitals across the country to light candles on Wednesday as a protest against such attacks.
“Light a candle with white coat. White Alert is only a warning,” the IMA said in a letter addressed to its doctors and hospitals.
“The COVID-19 has only made us acutely aware of our helplessness against mindless abuse and violence. Stigma and social boycott are everywhere. Harassment by administration is nothing but violence by the state. Our legitimate needs for safe workplaces have to be met,” IMA said in the letter addressed to all State Presidents and Secretaries, Local branch Presidents and Secretaries and all National office-bearers along with past National Presidents and Past HSGs.
The doctors’ body had also warned that they would observe a ‘Black Day’ if no action is taken by the government and doctors in the country will work with black badges on April 23.
However, the symbolic protest was called off after Union Home Minister Amit Shah held talks with IMA representatives today and assured them that the government will provide adequate security to health workers.