SC notice to centre on petition by AHPI to curb violence against doctors

The petition pleads that the Supreme Court direct the Union Government to take immediate action against perpetrators indulging in violence against doctors and hospitals, and enact a law to create a separate offence for such violence

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Chennai: The Supreme Court has issued a notice to the Government of India to respond to a petition filed by the Tamil Nadu Chapter of the Association of Healthcare Providers of India (AHPI) to take immediate action against the perpetrators indulging in violence against medical professionals and medical services, and causing damage to the clinical establishments.

In its writ petition to the highest court in the land, AHPI has said that the Union Government be directed to enact a new central law with deterrent punishment for violence against medical professionals and healthcare facilities.

A bench of Mr Justice NV Ramana and Mr Justice Ajay Rastogi admitted the Petition by the Tamil Nadu Chapter of AHPI filed through its President Dr S Gurushankar and Dr B Kannan. The petitioners in their plea noted that according to study by the Indian Medical Association, more than 75 percent doctors across the country have faced some form of violence while discharging their duties, but no effective steps have been taken by the Indian government to stop this despicable practice that is mostly indulged in by the relatives of patients. Many doctors have even died in the country after being assaulted in such manner.

Commenting on the matter, Dr S Gurushankar, President, Association of Healthcare Providers of India (Tamil Nadu Chapter), said: “We welcome the fact that the Hon’ble Supreme Court has taken cognizance of our petition and issued a notice to the Union Government. This has not come a moment too soon, because Incidents of violence against doctors are reported almost on daily basis across the country, with some resulting in grievous injuries. Private clinics and hospitals, which provide the bulk of healthcare services, are isolated and disorganized, and vulnerable to violence, most of which is perpetrated by the relatives of patients. The Prevention of Violence Against Medicare Persons and Institutions Acts, which have been notified in 19 States in the past 10 years, have failed to address this issue. Since no positive action is taken by the local Police, the medical fraternity has become a soft target for hooligans and got demoralized. This is one of the main reasons why the doctors are reluctant to serve in rural areas. Unless such attacks are stopped, they can have serious repercussions on patient care.”

Dr S Gurushankar said that there needs to be an understanding that vandalism and violence in a hospital or clinic is a criminal offence and any civilized society should have low tolerance for such heinous acts. “Many times, social and political leaders, instead of condemning such violence against doctors, try to justify the situation. There is immense responsibility of patients, their relatives and society at large to prevent this violence, Action against such violence should be prompt and a stronger law enacted by the Central Government to curb such dastardly acts,” he said.