Respected Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji,
Violence against doctors has assumed epidemic proportions and unfortunately it is condoned and sometimes even instigated by public officials. Leave aside the demoralizing effect, physical hurt and economic loss to the doctors, there is extreme danger to other patients admitted or being treated in the facility where such violence occurs. There have been cases of death having occurred while medical staff was involved in altercation with another patient’s relatives as happened at PGIMER recently.
There are 19 states in the country, which have the Prevention of Violence Against Medicare Persons and Medicare Institutions Act notified. Unfortunately, these Acts have remained on paper as despite daily incidents occurring in nearly every state, nowhere has the law been used to prosecute miscreants in more than 1% cases if at all. Police officials are not aware of these laws despite they being notified for upto nine years in some states. IPC and CrPC are what the police are trained in and what are followed by the rank and file.
The condonation of such violence stems from the justification apportioned to the death or deterioration in health of relative of the perpetrators of violence. However, if any violence or assault, which is committed due to a grievance, were pardonable then our criminal courts would be empty. Any murder which is committed is committed due to a motive, a grievance or as a revenge for some perceived wrong. Then all these criminal acts which are provoked should be condoned at the outset. Police refuse to file cases against perpetrators of violence in clinics and nursing homes or threaten them with cross FIRs for criminal negligence in treatment.
How is it that a litigant who loses his case in a court of law even if he perceives the judicial system to be biased, unfair and even corrupt, he never indulges in violence or assaults the judge or his advocate in court. It is the fear that prosecution for such action would be swift and harsh. Unfortunately, the same does not apply to such violence in hospitals and clinics.
Doctors, even private doctors, are called upon to perform public service by becoming involved in various government programs. They fulfil duties of Government by providing healthcare to the masses at affordable costs and sometimes even free of cost in emergencies. Healthcare establishments are public places where anyone can walk in or can be brought by bystanders as per the Clinical Establishments Act and expect medical emergencies to be stabilized irrespective of whether any payment is made or promised or not. By virtue of being a noble profession, it has been differentiated from being a trade by various authoritative court judgments. We request you to accord them the privilege of being designated “public servants” so that if assaulted on duty Section 332 and 333 of IPC can be invoked.
When I am dragged outside from my operation theatre my patient on the OT table will also suffer. When I am assaulted, restrained, hurt while on duty other patients, my staff members and the public in general who depend on me are also put at risk. They are the “public” and my service to them, whether paid or free, still remains service and I their “service provider” or in other words a “Public Servant”.
I request you to designate all doctors, even if they work in private sector hospitals or their own clinics, as “public servants” for purpose of Sections 332, 333 & 353 of the Indian Penal Code. This will put a fear in the minds of miscreants and hopefully make the police officials recognize this growing malady, which may have disastrous consequences for the medical profession and the society.
Dr Neeraj Nagpal
Convenor, Medicos Legal Action Group
Managing Director, MLAG Indemnity
Ex-President, IMA Chandigarh
Director, Hope Gastrointestinal Diagnostic Clinic, Chandigarh
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