Kerala High Court: Finding it shocking and unbelievable that were 278 attacks against Doctors, Nurses and Healthcare Workers in the State of Kerala, the Division Bench of Devan Ramachandran and Kauser Edappagath, JJ., stated that,
“The attacks on Health Care Workers or an attempt to intimidate or threaten them, for whatever be the reason can never be condoned or tolerated.”
Pursuant to frequent incidents of violence against medical practitioners in the State of Kerala and various orders of the Court, the State government had proposed following suggestions:
“1. CCTV should be installed in all hospitals, initially and a feed shall be given to Police AID Post
- At the institution level, security in charge officer to be nominated by the Superintendent of Hospital.
- The paramedical staff and others to be given security related training by coordinating with the Superintendent of the Hospital.
- All further appointments of security personnel, especially for Casualty and Out Patient Department (OPD) areas shall only be from Ex-Serviceman Society/organizations.”
Noticeably, around 278 cases had been registered under the provisions of the Kerala Health Care Service Persons and Health Care Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage to Property) Act, 2012 of which 232 of such cases had been charge-sheeted and 28 were under investigation.
The Indian Medical Association and Association of Private Medical Hospitals submitted that, in spite of the earnest efforts taken by the Government instances of attacks on Doctors and Nurses are still continuing, mainly because of the delay in investigation and conclusion of the proceedings on the crimes registered; and also because the Police are often lax in responding to their plea for assistance or protection. It was also submitted that sometimes certain vexatious messages in the social media give rise to misunderstanding on the working of a particular hospital, which leads to untoward incidents, but that the Police are slow in responding to it.
Noticing that there was nothing on record to suggest whether steps had already been implemented, apart from saying that they had been proposed, the Bench stated that all the steps which we have extracted above, require to be effectively implemented. Opining that it is only sensitization and education that the citizens be made aware that their actions against Doctors and Nurses would invite penal consequences under the provisions of the Act would ease the situation, the Bench said,
“we have not come across any public messages or news releases from the side of the Government informing the public that such attacks would attract very severe penalties the Government to ensure that the provisions of the Act are made known to the public at large, including by giving publicity in the premises of the hospitals and also by giving it good circulation through the Mainline and Online media.”
Hence, the State Police Chief was directed to ensure that necessary instructions are given to all the Station House Officers to react swiftly and quickly in case of any complaint being made to them by the hospitals and make adequate arrangements for disseminating information about penal consequences of violence against medical practitioners.
Additionally, on being informed that the Government had brought out an order (G.O (Rt)No.1750/2021/H&FWD) dated 16-08-2021, whereby certain fees and charges were prescribed for treatment of patients suffering from “post COVID complications”; the Bench asked the government to explain the necessity for having issued the order, particularly when post COVID complications – by its very nature – indicate problems that arises out of COVID-19 infections. [Kerala Private Hospitals Association v. State of Kerala, RP No. 379 of 2021, decided on 09-09-2021]
Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.
For The Petitioners: Syam Divan (Senior Advocate) along with K. Anand, Advocates
For State Of Kerala: Advocate General & Government Pleader
For Union of India: P. Vijayakumar, Assistant Solicitor General of India
For Indian Medical Association (IMA): S. Gopakumaran Nair (Senior Advocate) along with Sri.Suraj T.Elenjikkal,
For Private Medical Practitioners Association: M/S.M.Gopikrishnan Nambiar, K.John Mathai, Joson Manavalan, Kuryan Thomas, Paulose C. Abraham & Raja Kannan,
For State Police Chief: M. Ajay, Sri.S. Kannan, Senior Government Pleader