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In light of the recent assault on healthcare workers in Bangalore's Padarayanapura, the Karnataka High Court yesterday asked the state government to come up with a policy to protect doctors, nurses and ASHA workers.
The Court additionally directed the state to place on record the action that had been taken against the wrongdoers.
The order passed by a Division Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice BV Nagarathna states,
"What is more important is the issue of providing adequate police protection to the doctors, nurses, paramedical staff and Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) workers. The State Government must place on record a policy decision taken regarding providing adequate protection to the doctors, nurses, paramedical staff, ASHA workers, etc. It must be clarified whether the State has any policy to provide armed police constables for protection of all the health workers. The State will also have to place on record what steps it proposes to take to prevent such incidents. The reason is that the safety of the doctors, nurses, paramedical staff, ASHA workers, etc. is of paramount importance in the battle against Covid-19. The State must come out with the policy which applies across the State for protecting this class of citizens who are on the forefront in the battle against Covid-19."
Karnataka High Court
The Court also made observations regarding the availability of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) kits for medical personnel who were on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19.
It opined that though the state had placed on record the various steps taken to procure and manufacture PPE kits, there had been no response on whether such equipment was made available across the state to healthcare facilities such as Primary Health Centers (PHCs) and other facilities at the grass-roots level.
Responding to this aspect, the Additional Solicitor General of India stated that the Centre had recently distributed 2,83,910 PPE kits and about 20 lakh N-95 masks to various states.
The Court had asked the state to clarify this aspect as well. It further stated,
"Even the learned Additional Solicitor General of India will also take instruction on the aspect of the Government E-Marketplace (GEM) Portal and state whether it can be thrown open to private health care workers to enable private health care workers to buy PPE Kits and other equipment."
Raising another pertinent issue, Advocate Shridhar Prabhu had told the Court that salaries of paramedical workers and ASHA workers in the state have still not been released. In this regard, the Court held,
"we expect the State to ensure that no nurses, paramedical staff or ASHA workers are deprived of their salaries", and further directed the State to respond in the issue.
In a seperate petition, the Court was intimated that there are a huge numbers of domestic violence cases as a consequence of the lockdown. The Court directed the state to respond on this aspect by pointing out the helplines available so that domestic violence complaints could be filed. Additionally, the state was instructed to point out what action is being taken on the basis of such complaints, if any.
Further, the Court asked the state government to file its reply to a plea pertaining to the breach of social distancing guidelines at a wedding ceremony recently held at the house of a prominent political leader.
[Read orders here]