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The Central government has today promulgated an Ordinance to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 to make attacks on doctors and healthcare workers a cognizable and non-bailable offence.
The Ordinance is called 'The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020'
Whoever commits or abets the commitment of violence against health care worker, shall be punished with imprisonment ranging from 3 months to 5 years, and penalty ranging from Rs 50,000 to 2 lakh.
In case of a very serious attack, the imprisonment may be for a minimum period of 6 months and maximum of 7 years, with penalty ranging from Rs 1 lakh to 5 lakh.
As per the Ordinance, investigation into the incidents of attacks on doctors and healthcare workers has to be conducted by a senior inspector and be completed within 30 days.
Court proceedings related to these cases shall also be conducted in a time-bound manner, and have to be decided within a year.
The Ordinance also provides that the court shall presume that such person has committed such offence, unless the contrary is proved.
The Ordinance states that in case of damage to vehicles or clinics of doctors or healthcare workers, the perpetrators would have to pay double the market cost of the damaged asset as compensation.
Upon failure to pay the compensation awarded, such amount shall be recovered as an arrear of land revenue under the Revenue Recovery Act, 1890