In what can be considered a very significant move, the Rajya Sabha has passed a bill to punish people who attack and assault healthcare workers. Anybody who is found guilty of attacking and assaulting a healthcare worker or is found guilty of abating such acts of violence will be punishable by law. The person will have to undergo a prison term of three months to five years and pay a find of Rs 50,000 to Rs 2,00,000.
The legislation is applicable to anybody who hurts/assaults or commits any act of violence against a healthcare worker who us fighting the coronavirus pandemic or during any situation similar to the ongoing pandemic.
The bill replaces an ordinance that was issued by the government in April. The Epidemic Diseases(Amendment)Bill, 2020 was introduced in the Rajya Sabha by the Health Minister Harsh Vardhan. This is a very important bill because it will provide protection to healthcare workers and save them from violent onslaughts during epidemics. The bill is important because it underlines that the government of India shall be intolerant and non-forgiving of any act of violence committed against health care workers and healthcare personnel or any damage to property during the ongoing pandemic or during any such situation in the future. When the word healthcare service is mentioned, it includes in its ambit, people working in the public and private healthcare services such as doctors, nurses, community health workers, paramedical staff and all other persons who have been working to prevent the outbreak of the disease or its spread by the state government or through an official gazette.
The bill makes it punishable to commit or aid any act of violence against such workers and also punishes damage to property including a clinical establishment, a quarantine/isolation facility, medical vehicles or other structures that are meant for the usage of healthcare workers or help them in fighting and warding off the coronavirus pandemic.
The bill also makes sure that all future epidemics are covered in it and people are warned against showing offensive behaviour against the medical fraternity. The offences will be investigated with 30 days and it has been made compulsory that the trial is completed within a year of the crime if not extended by the court.