Kerala govt ordinance brings in stringent punishment for offences against those in health services

Thiruvananthapuram: The LDF government in Kerala on Wednesday approved an ordinance that provides for stringent punishment, including imprisonment of up to seven years and a maximum fine of Rs 5 lakh for those found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm to doctors, medical students, and others working in the health services sector in the state.

The decision, taken in a cabinet meeting chaired by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, came in the wake of the brutal killing of Dr Vandana Das by a patient at a taluk hospital in Kollam district of the state last week.

Under the Kerala Healthcare Service Workers and Healthcare Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage to Property) Amendment Ordinance, anyone found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm to any healthcare worker or professional would be punished with imprisonment ranging from one year to seven years and a fine of Rs one lakh to Rs 5 lakh, a government statement said.

The CMO said the amendments are envisaged to strictly implement the 2012 Act. Appropriate changes would be brought in the definition of healthcare institutions and healthcare workers, apart from incorporating stringent punishment for attacks on healthcare professionals, sources said. The government would conduct discussions with all stakeholders in the sector, including Kerala University of Health Sciences and organisations of doctors in this regard.

The meeting also decided to set up police aid posts in all important hospitals in the state. Hospitals will be categorised into three and police outposts would be erected based on it. All hospitals should conduct a security audit every month.

Earlier in the day, the Kerala High Court rapped the state government for its failure to bring in amendments in the 2012 Act. When the government informed the court about the proposal, the court had observed that “no tangible results have been brought to our notice.”