President Ram Nath Kovind has given a nod for the promulgation of The Epidemic Disease (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020. The ordinance provides more stringent punishment for the violence against healthcare workers. It makes the attacks on healthcare personnel fighting the novel coronavirus pandemic as cognizable and non-bailable offenses.
The ordinance amends the Epidemic Diseases Act (1897) and provides for compensation for injury to health service personnel or for causing property damage.
In a statement, the Health Ministry said: “The president has given his assent for the promulgation of the ordinance.”
It also added that commission or abetment of these acts of violence will carry 3 months to 5 years of imprisonment and with Rs 50,000 to Rs 2,00,000 fine as punishment.
The ministry also said that the offender will be liable to compensate the victim and pay twice the fair market value for the property damages.
Promulgation of The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Ordinance 2020 was approved by the Union Cabinet to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897. This was done to protect the healthcare service personnel and property (which included their living and working premises) against acts of violence during epidemics.
Soon after the 1987 Act was amended, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted:
In a statement, the Health Ministry said, that the aim of the current ordinance is to ensure that during a situation like the ongoing pandemic, there is zero-tolerance to violence against health-care personnel and property damage.
It added,”…some incidents of violence have taken place which has demoralized the medical fraternity. It is felt that separate and most stringent provisions for emergent times are needed to act as effective deterrents to any such incidents of violence.”
As per the ordinance, ‘violence’ includes harassment and physical injury and property damage.