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Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan on Tuesday signed an ordinance that ensures stringent punishment, including imprisonment of up to seven years and a maximum fine of Rs 5 lakh for those found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm to doctors, medical students, and others working in the health services sector in the state.
Last week, a state cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan approved the 'Kerala Healthcare Service Workers and Healthcare Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage to Property) Amendment Ordinance'. Following this, the government sent the ordinance for approval of Kerala Governor.
The move came in the wake of the brutal killing of Dr Vandana Das, a Kottayam native and a house surgeon, by a patient at Kottarakkara taluk hospital in Kollam.
Under the Kerala Healthcare Service Workers and Healthcare Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage to Property) Amendment Ordinance, anyone found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm to any healthcare worker or professional would be punished with imprisonment ranging from one year to seven years and a fine of Rs one lakh to Rs 5 lakh.
The ordinance also provides that anyone who commits or attempts to commit or incites or inspires an act of violence against healthcare workers or those working in healthcare institutions shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of not less than 6 months and up to 5 years and with a fine between Rs 50,000 to Rs 2 lakh.
The ordinance also states that the trials in cases lodged under the Kerala Healthcare Service Workers and Healthcare Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage to Property) Act of 2012 have to be completed in a timely manner and that special courts will be designated in each district to ensure speedy adjudication.
The ordinance also states that cases registered under the Act have to be investigated by a police officer, not below the rank of Inspector, and the probe has to be completed within 60 days of registration of the FIR, it said.
Furthermore, the ordinance extends the protection under the Act to paramedical students, security guards, managerial staff, ambulance drivers, and helpers who are posted and working in healthcare institutions. Also, the health workers would be notified in the official government gazette from time to time.
(With Inputs from PTI)