The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Centre to respond to a plea to make violence committed against doctors and medical personnel and establishments a separate penal offence.
A Bench led by Justice N.V. Ramana issued notice to the Centre to reply to a petition filed by the Tamil Nadu chapter of the Association of Healthcare Providers (India), through its president, Dr. S. Gurushankar, seeking immediate and necessary action against those indulging in violence against medical professionals, medicare service and causing damage to clinical establishments.
The petition said police hardly swung into action to prevent incidents of violence or protect the medical community. The medical fraternity had become demoralised by the increasing number of attacks on them. This was one of the reasons why doctors avoided serving in rural areas. “Unless such attacks are checked, there will be serious repercussions on patient care.”
Violence against doctors was unacceptable and needed to be condemned. Small and medium private healthcare establishments formed the bulwark of the healthcare sector. They were, however, isolated and vulnerable to violence. The Prevention of Violence Against Medicare Persons and Institutions Acts,which have been notified in 19 States in the past 10 years, have failed to address the issue, the plea said.
“The petitioners submit that innumerable incidents of violence against doctors are reported nearly on a daily basis across India, some resulting in grievous injuries,” it said.
“Even institutions such as the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, the premier medical institute of the country is not spared,” it noted.
The punishment for committing violence against the medical fraternity should be either three years to five years' imprisonment and a fine of minimum Rs. 25000 upto one lakh, the plea said.