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Government Considers Legal Safeguards for Healthcare Workers Amid Rising Violence

Written by : Jayati Dubey

November 28, 2023

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Delegates from medical associations emphasised the widespread nature of violent incidents against healthcare personnel across the country. This underscores the urgent requirement for legal safeguards to protect the well-being of healthcare workers.

In response to increasing violent incidents against healthcare workers, a parliamentary panel is considering the introduction of legal safeguards for medical professionals who often face aggression from patients' relatives or attendants.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs, led by BJP member Brij Lal, examined three proposed criminal laws.

During their discussions, the committee reviewed memoranda submitted by various medical associations urging the incorporation of provisions under Clause 115 of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) to penalise acts of violence against healthcare service personnel.

The committee's report highlighted the unique vulnerability of healthcare professionals to "violent attacks," particularly in cases where patients succumb during treatment.

Representatives from medical associations emphasised that such incidents of violence against healthcare personnel are widespread across the country, underscoring the urgent need for legal safeguards to protect the well-being of healthcare workers.

In response to these concerns, the Union Home Ministry asserted that general penal provisions apply universally without making distinctions for any class of person.

Emphasising equality before the law, the ministry stated that the state is obligated to protect the lives of all citizens, including professionals such as doctors, media persons, advocates, bankers, and chartered accountants. The ministry cautioned that creating special provisions for doctors might lead to similar demands from other professional sectors.

The Union Home Ministry informed the committee about the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare's proposal to introduce a 'Medical Professionals Act.' This proposed legislation aims to provide specific safeguards for healthcare workers, shielding them from violent attacks. The Home Ministry pledged to seek an update from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare regarding the progress of this proposed act.

In its response, the committee acknowledged the concerns raised by healthcare personnel and recommended that the government consider implementing appropriate legal safeguards to benefit healthcare workers.

The discussions around potential legal protections come at a time when the medical community is grappling with an alarming increase in incidents of violence and aggression.

Clause 115 of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita outlines the legal consequences for voluntarily causing hurt, especially when the intended or likely harm is severe.

The proposed 'Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS-2023)' bill, introduced alongside the 'Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS-2023)' and 'Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam (BSA-2023)' bills on August 11 in the Lok Sabha, aims to replace the outdated Code of Criminal Procedure Act, 1898, the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.

As discussions unfold within the parliamentary committee, the government faces the task of balancing the need for specific legal safeguards for healthcare workers with the potential repercussions and demands from other professional sectors. The outcome of these deliberations could significantly impact the safety and working conditions of healthcare professionals nationwide.


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