After brutal killing of doctor, Kerala approves ordinance to protect medical, paramedical staff
Both the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and Kerala Government Medical Officers' Association (KGMOA) doctors protested across the state against the incident
After the brutal killing of a young doctor in Kerala, the Kerala government on Wednesday okayed an ordinance aimed at protecting doctors, healthcare workers and medical students. It will be sent to the Governor Arif Mohammed Khan for approval and promulgation as law.
A government statement said that a cabinet meeting chaired by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan approved the Kerala Health Care Service Workers and Health Care Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage to Property) Amendment Ordinance, 2012.
Under the 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 between Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh would be imposed upon them.
A 23-year-old young doctor, Vandana Das, was stabbed to death on May 10, 2023, by a school teacher G Sandeep using a scissor and scalpel. He was brought to the taluk hospital in Kollam by the police and a local politician for a medical examination. It has been alleged that he was a drug addict and was brought in an inebriated state. The four police personnel who came with the patient could not save the doctor either.
During the dressing of his wound, he got violent. He initially stabbed the politician and the police there and then repeatedly stabbed Das, who could not escape to safety.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had convened an emergency high-level meeting on May 11, a day after the doctor was killed, following the protest of doctors and other healthcare workers and decided to issue the ordinance. Both the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and Kerala Government Medical Officers' Association (KGMOA) doctors protested across the state against the incident.
It was also decided that police outposts would be set up in all major hospitals in the state, the chief minister’s office (CMO) said in a statement. The government’s decision to issue the ordinance came hours after the Kerala High Court said that the incident had been an outcome of a “systemic failure”.
The ordinance states that anyone who commits or attempts to commit or incites or inspires an act of violence against healthcare workers or those working in healthcare institutions, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term not less than 6 months and up to 5 years and with a fine between Rs 50,000 to Rs 2 lakh, it said.
The existing unamended law covered registered and provisionally registered medical practitioners, registered nurses, medical students, nursing students and paramedical staff working in healthcare institutions, it said. Under the ordinance, the protection under the law would be extended to the paramedical students also, it said.
Additionally, paramedical staff, security guards, managerial staff, ambulance drivers, helpers who are posted and working in health care institutions and health workers would also be included in the ordinance.
The ordinance now states that a police officer ranked not less than an inspector will investigate the cases under the Act and have to complete the probe under 60 days of the registering of the first information report.
Doctors had contended that police inaction was making a mockery of the Hospital Protection Act and that even though over 200 cases had been registered under the Act in the past two years, not a single person had been convicted so far.
Health Minister Veena George said that the trial procedures will also be completed within a stipulated time frame of one year and that the Government, with the consent of the High Court, will designate a court as a special court in every district for trying cases under the 2012 Act.