Cabinet approves Ordinance to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897, strict norms to protect doctors, healthcare workers, etc.

The Union Cabinet approved the promulgation of an Ordinance to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act (hereafter referred to as “Act”) to provide severe punishments for attacks against healthcare .

The move came after the Indian Medical Association (IMA) demanded Special Laws against violence on doctors and healthcare workers are continuously facing discrimination and assaults in some parts of the country while providing services to fight against COVID-19. They had threatened to observe ‘Black Day’ on 23rd April [1] which was later called off after being re-assured by Home Minister Amit Shah over its concerns at a video conference held yesterday in which Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan was also present[2].

The Union Cabinet, at a meeting, decided to amend the 123-year-old Act to insert provisions to take action against those attacking doctors and health care workers. The amendment was necessitated in view of reports of incidents of attack and harassment against doctors, nurses, paramedics, and other healthcare professionals, said Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Prakash Javdaker[3].

The ordinance proposes police investigation of assaults against healthcare workers should be completed within 30 days and trial should be completed within 1 year. Such crime will now be non-bailable and cognizable. An investigation will be done within 30 days. The punishment ranges from three months to five years and fine from Rs 50,000 up to Rs 2 lakh. If injuries are grievous in nature than the imprisonment will range from six months to seven years and a fine ranging from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh[4].

For compensating personal loss and property damage sustained by healthcare workers, compensation amounting to twice the market value of the damaged property will be taken from the accused, said Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting[5].

[1]Attack on doctors: IMA declares April 23 as black day, asks medics to light candles tomorrow INDIA TODAY (April 21, 2020)
[2]Jay Pandya, IMA Calls Off Symbolic ‘Black Day’ Protest After Meeting & Reassurance From Amit Shah(April 22, 2020)
[3]Cabinet okays ordinance to protect frontline workers THE ECONOMIC TIMES (April 22, 2020)
[4]Cabinet Approves Ordinance To Amend Epidemic Diseases Act For Stricter Punishments For Offences Against Health Workers, (April 22, 2020)
[5]Sagar Kulkarni, Centre enacts tough law to protect doctors, healthcare workers (April 22 2020)


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