Kerala High Court: In a case filed concerning recurring violence against Doctors and Healthcare Professionals, a Division Bench of Devan Ramchandran and Edappagath JJ., directed that every Station House Officer concerned, to whom, or to whose Station, a complaint of atrocity or attack or harm on any Healthcare Professional be that doctors, nurses, staffs, security or such other, or against the property of a Hospital shall be recorded as a first information and a case registered within a period of one hour from the time on which such information is obtained or gathered.
The Court noted that unless a sense of fear of the law is instilled into the citizens, nothing can really change and experience has shown that citizens are not fearful of the law, but of apprehension in case of misconduct or infraction.
The Court expresses concern that the official system would function faultlessly and that the citizens would also be aware of the imperative requirement to treat the healthcare system with the respect it deserves.
The Court remarked that the fact that the Government Hospital System is overwhelmed and that the number of patients is escalating by the day is common knowledge and unless the doctors and healthcare professionals can act in peace and calm, it would become impossible for the system to sustain itself.
Thus, the Court directed that every incident of attack on a doctor or a Healthcare Professional, including any other staff of the Hospital – be Security or other – will have to be taken cognizance of by the Station House Officer of the Police Station concerned not later than one hour from the time on which it is reported to him. This can be under the Special Law applicable, or under the Penal Code, 1860; but an FIR will need to be registered within the afore time frame, which alone will ensure that the perpetrator/s understands that action is swift and quick.
The Court further directed that swift action thereafter should be initiated, including to apprehend the Offenders, as and when it requires so, leading to prosecution and such other, as the law warrants.
The Court further requested the Government of Kerala to ensure that the citizens are told, by appropriate methods, the gravity of the offence of an attack on a hospital or a Healthcare Personnel; and the way this Court proposes to deal with it in the future.
[Kerala Private Hospitals Association v. Sabu P Joseph, 2022 SCC OnLine Ker 6182, decided on 01-12-2022]
*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.