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Should doctors be made liable for striking: SC notice to Centre


New Delhi, Dec 02: The Supreme Court has issued notice to the Centre on a petition which sought to make doctors liable for going on strike.

The SC while issuing notice said that its endeavour would be for maintenance of treatment to critically ill patients. While recognising the right of citizens to strike, the court said it would like to evolve a mechanism to ensure continuance of services to those critically ill patients and also to those admitted in ICUs.

Should doctors be made liable for striking: SC notice to Centre

In July the Union Health Ministry entrusted an eight-member sub-committee with the task of drafting a central law to check violence against doctors and other medical professionals, a long-standing demand of the medical fraternity.

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The panel comprises officials from the Health Ministry and representatives from the Medical Council of India, Indian Medical Association (IMA), AIIMS RDA among others.

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    An experienced person from the Bureau of Police Research and Development is likely to be nominated for assisting the panel in drafting the law, they said.

    The sub-committee was constituted after a 10-member panel set up by the Health Ministry to examine the "pros and cons" of bringing such a central legislation held its meeting last week and mulled ways to strengthen security at medical establishments across the country.

    "The members of the sub-committee have been requested to carry out the drafting work over next one week. They will hold a meeting on July 17 for submitting the draft legislation. The sub-committee shall submit the draft legislation to the (10-member) Committee, which shall hold its next meeting on July 22 to consider the draft legislation," the minutes of the meeting held on July 10 stated.

    The proposed central legislation will have uniform application and impact across the country and will be more effective in protecting the doctors, paramedics and clinical establishments, the minutes said.

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    The meeting held on July 10 was attended by officials of the Home Ministry, Legal Affairs Department, Health Ministry, Medical Council of India, various doctors' associations, and medical superintendents of AIIMS and RML Hospital.

    The participants brought out the present day situation wherein many incidents of assault on doctors on duty and clinical establishments are coming to the fore.

    They noted that such incidents have become a matter of routine and are recurrent in nature, and are happening in both government and private establishments, the minutes of the meeting said.

    It was also observed that several factors were contributing to incidents of assault on health care providers like infrastructural gaps, weak security apparatus inclinical establishments, delayed response by law enforcing agencies, insufficient facilities of counselling of attendants, unregulated entry of trespassers, lack of fear of stringent legal provisions, overburdened doctors, breach of patient-doctor trust, lack of functional and robust grievance cells and legal protection of doctors, paramedics etc.

    It was also noted that 18 states have enacted their own laws to prevent such incidents, but the medical practitioners are not satisfied with the implementation of the existing provisions under the State Acts and want more stringent provisions.

    A representative of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA, who attended the meeting, said his ministry put forth that the Indian Penal Code is a general and comprehensive code intended to cover all substantive aspects of criminal law, and the Code of Criminal Procedure is the main legislation on the procedure of administration of substantive criminal law in India, irrespective of caste, creed and category of work.

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    "He also said that the Ministry of Health should bring a stand-alone legislation to make specific provisions exclusively for doctors, paramedics and clinical establishments," the note stated.

    Last month, the IMA held a nationwide protest following assault on doctors at the NRS Medical College in Kolkata and demanded the enactment of a central law to check violence on medical professionals in hospitals.

    They also wrote to Union Home Minister Amit Shah demanding enactment of the law, saying it should have the provision of minimum seven-year jail sentence to violaters.

    Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had supported the demand for the central law and said such crimes should be made non-bailable. He had also written to all states, requesting the chief ministers to consider enacting specific legislation for protecting medical professionals from any form of violence, along with suggesting a model law proposed by the IMA.

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