On Saturday, the Rajya Sabha passed legislation which provides that people who attack doctors and health care workers who are fighting the COVID-19 pandemic or during any pandemic similar to it will be jailed for up to five years.
Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan introduced the Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Bill, 2020 in the Rajya Sabha on Saturday which replaces an ordinance issued by the government in April.
The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Ordinance 2020 was published by the Union to improve the Epidemic Diseases Act. 1897.
This amended ordinance protects healthcare service personnel and property, including their living/working premises against violence during epidemics.
The Bill intends 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 healthcare service personnel includes healthcare service providers of public and clinical such as nurses, doctors, community health workers, and paramedical workers or any other person who is acting to curb the disease’s outbreak.
The provisions of the penal will be invoked in situations of damage to property which includes a clinical establishment, mobile medical units, any place for quarantine and isolation of patients, and any property in which the healthcare service personnel posses a direct interest regarding the epidemic.
An officer will be investigating offences who will be a rank of inspector within a time period of 30 days. Trial for such has to be completed in one year unless extended by the court for reasons to be recorded in writing, the Bill proposes.
According to its provisions, the commission or abetment of such acts of violence will be punishable. The punishment will attract imprisonment for a term of 3 months to 5 years. It will also attract a fine of Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 2,00,000.