The Union health ministry has come out with a draft bill to deal with assaults on doctors on duty and vandalisation of hospital premises. The bill proposes a jail term of up to 10 years and a maximum fine of Rs 10 lakh as punishment for these offences.
The minimum jail term will be six months, and a person will have to shell out at least Rs 50,000, if convicted, with the jail term and fine varying according to the extent of the hurt and damage caused.
“It was high time to bring in such legislation that protects the rights of doctors. Doctors try their best to save patients, and it is not fair to assault doctors in the heat of a moment,” said a Union health ministry official requesting anonymity.
The proposed legislation makes assaulting doctors a cognizable and non-bailable offence.
In addition, the person charged with damaging hospital property will have to pay twice the amount of fair market value of the damaged property.
The violence against doctors in the draft has been defined as “harm, injury, hurt, grievous hurt, intimidation to, or danger to the life of a health care service personnel in the discharge of duty, either within the premises of a clinical establishment or otherwise… obstruction or hindrance in letting a doctor treat a patient, or loss or damage to property…”
The Union health ministry constituted a 10-member committee in July to look into the matter amid rising cases of manhandling of doctors by attendants of patients.
The committee constituted an eight-member sub-committee to draft the bill.
The draft legislation, the Healthcare Service Personnel and Clinical Establishments (Prohibition of violence and damage to property) Bill, 2019, has been put in the public domain for suggestions and comments within 30 days before it is finalised.