The Rajya Sabha passed legislation on Saturday, 19 September, that will provide protection to doctors and healthcare workers. Provisions in the legislation can put people in jail for up to five years for attacking healthcare workers fighting the COVID-19 outbreak or during any situation akin to the current pandemic.
The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Bill, 2020 introduced by Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan will replace an ordinance issued by the government in April.
The legislation that was tipped to address the deficiencies of the NDMA Act and Epidemic Diseases Amendment Bill, will provide protection to public and clinical healthcare service providers such as doctors, nurses, paramedical workers and community health workers. While introducing the bill, Vardhan had said that a central prohibitory mechanism was needed to put an end to attacks and insults on healthcare workers.
The Opposition expressed apprehension that it would give unqualified power in the hands of the Centre. “The Bill is an attempt to encroach states’ constitutionally assigned functioning,” Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien said.
Congress’ Neeraj Dangi talked about Rahul Gandhi’s warnings to the Centre and said that the Centre did not take it seriously. "While Rahul Gandhi warned, the Centre was busy breaking state governments. They were successful in MP, but not in Rajasthan," Dangi said.
Samajwadi Party's Ram Gopal Yadav questioned the government about the scams in buying PPE kits and pointed out that the Bill lacked any provision to punish such offenders. Yadav also raised questions on the exorbitantly priced COVID-19 medicines and healthcare in private hospitals.
Provisions made in the bill mandates an officer-level investigation within 30 days, and trial to be completed within a year, according to PTI. Apart from imprisonment for a term of three months to five years, a fine of Rs 50,000 to Rs 2,00,000 will be imposed on anyone abetting such acts of violence.
(With inputs from IANS.)
. Read more on India by The Quint.RS Passes Bill to Punish People for Attacking Healthcare WorkersAmid ‘Act of God’ Jibe, RS Passes Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code . Read more on India by The Quint.