The Union Cabinet approved the promulgation of an ordinance on April 22, 2020. The President has given his assent for the promulgation of the ordinance. The Ordinance is to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897. In effect, there would be strict punishment for offences against healthcare workers. Prakash Javadekar, the Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting stated that the amendment was necessary. This is due to the reported incidents of attacks coupled with harassment against doctors, nurses, paramedics and Asha workers. They are working relentlessly round the clock to save human lives. Unfortunately, they have become the most vulnerable victims of such attacks. Especially, in the current times of the pandemic, COVID-19.
The ordinance proposes that Police will investigate the crimes against the healthcare workers. For this reason, the investigation should be over within 30 days. Thereafter, the trial should be complete within one year. The ordinance proposes strict punishment for the same. The imprisonment will range from 3 to 5 years and fine from Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 2,00,000. In case the injuries are grievous, the punishment would extend to 7 years. Besides that, the offences will be cognizable and non-bailable. Also, there will be provisions to compensate for personal loss and property-related damages.