Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala cabinet yesterday approved an amendment to the law which would make it possible to impose a jail term of up to seven years and a fine of up to 5 lakh rupees for those who injure not only doctors, nurses, but also ambulance drivers, security guards, hospital administrative staff etc.
In Kerala, the Left Democratic Front is ruling under the leadership of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan from the Marxist Communist Party. Here, a woman doctor named Vandana Das, 22, was working in a government hospital at Kottarakara in Kollam district.
Recently, when Vandana was treating a prisoner called Sandeep brought by the police, the man suddenly stabbed Vandana to death with a scissor. He also assaulted some health workers present there including the police, which shocked the entire country. The Indian Medical Association condemned the move to ensure the safety of doctors and hospital staff.
All government and private hospital employees in Kerala went on a two-day strike. The Kerala High Court, which took up the matter on its own initiative, strongly condemned the negligence of the state government. It directed the government to formulate new norms to ensure the safety of medical workers.
Following this, a high-level committee meeting of the Kerala government was convened. In this, it was decided to amend the Kerala Health Service Workers and Health Institutions Safety Act to ensure the safety of health workers. Subsequently, the Kerala Cabinet met yesterday under the leadership of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
At that time, the cabinet committee approved the amendment of the Kerala Health Service Workers and Health Institutions Safety Act and passed an emergency law. Under the Health Workers Safety Act currently in force in Kerala, assaulting health workers or causing damage to hospital property is punishable by imprisonment for a maximum of three years. And a fine of up to 50 thousand rupees is imposed.
If the new law amendment comes into effect, the law provides for imprisonment of one year to seven years and a fine of Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh depending on the nature of the offence.
Also, the amendment provides for a jail term of at least six months to five years and a fine of Rs 50,000 to Rs 2 lakh for those who attempt or commit violence against health workers or hospital staff.
Apart from this, the amendment also ensures the protection of paramedical students, hospital administrative staff, security guards, ambulance drivers, assistants, etc. Apart from the increase in the amount of punishment and fine of the special court, the police investigation must be completed within 60 days from the date of registration of the case under this Act.
The amendment also allows for the establishment of special courts in each district for speedy completion of trials. This Ordinance is to be sent to the Governor of Kerala for approval. It will come into force after the approval of the Governor.
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