Bengaluru: The Union cabinet’s decision to promulgate an ordinance criminalising attack on healthcare workers and doctors by making it a non-bailable offence was certainly long overdue and is a welcome one. 

The offence will attract a maximum punishment of seven years’ imprisonment and Rs 5 lakh fine. The move follows reports of attack on doctors and other health workers in different parts of the country and a demand from the community for a law to protect them.

Cabinet spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said a person can be sentenced to anywhere between three months and five years in jail, besides a fine between Rs 50,000 and two lakh, for such crimes under the new provision. In cases where injuries are serious, the punishment will range from six months to seven years and carry fine between Rs 1-5 lakh. 

At the time of writing this article, news has begun to trickle in the President of India has signed the ordinance. 

“The president has given his assent for promulgation of the ordinance," the health ministry said in a statement. 

The attacks on doctors and healthcare workers are growing by the day. 

From spitting at them to throwing bottles filled with urine and walking in a semi-naked fashion in front of them to attacking ambulances and not cooperating with health workers as they come to talk to suspects of Covid-19 have become a regular phenomenon. 

A state like Karnataka has seen at least two such incidents in which Asha workers were attacked. 

And in a state like Uttar Pradesh, there have bee several such incidents. Its CM has asked authorities to invoke NSA against the accused. 

The healthcare service personnel include public and clinical healthcare service providers such as doctors, nurses, paramedical workers and community health workers; any other persons empowered under the act to take measures to prevent the outbreak of the disease or spread thereof; and any persons declared as such by the state government, by notification in the official gazette.