Government brings ordinance to ‘Save health workers and other corona warriors’

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-Now attack on health workers is a cognizable and non-bailable offence
-Upto 7 years in jail for attacking
-For property damage, Guilty will pay a fine of double the market rate

The central government on 22 April. 2020 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 Shri 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 cognizable 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: Normal cases: Jail term: 3 months to 5 years Fine: Rs 50,000 to Rs 2 lakh. Serious cases: 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.

Welcoming the decision the IMA said 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 and the central has now done its, the association added.