New Delhi: The Union Health Ministry on Monday unveiled a draft bill to deal with rising cases in the country of assault of on-duty doctors. Further, the ministry has also asked for public feedback on the draft bill which is called the Healthcare Service Personnel and Clinical Establishments (Prohibition of Violence and Damage to Property) Bill, 2019.

The development comes just three days after a retired 73-year-old doctor was beaten to death in Assam by tea estate workers as he was not present when a temporary worker died at the estate hospital.

What are the various provisions of the draft bill?

The draft bill proposes jail term of up to 10 years and a maximum fine of Rs 50 lakh for such offences. The minimum jail term, meanwhile, will be six months and those convicted will have to shell out a fine of at least Rs 50,000; the jail term and fine will vary according to the extent of hurt and damage caused.

The fine, if not paid, will be recovered as arrears of land revenue under the Revenue Recovery Act, 1980.

Further, the bill proposes to make assault on doctors a cognizable and non-bailable offence. Those charged with damaging the hospital property will have to pay twice the fair market value of the damaged property.

Lastly, it defines violence as ‘harm, injury, hurt, grievous hurt, intimidation to, or danger to the life of a health care service personnel in the discharge of duty, either within the premises of a clinical establishment or otherwise, obstruction or hindrance in letting a doctor treat a patient or loss or damage to property.’

What led to the drafting of the bill?

The bill was drafted after a spate of incidents in which on-duty doctors were attacked, mostly by family members of patients. In June, doctors across the country went on a nation-wide strike to protest against the assault on an on-duty doctor in West Bengal and several similar cases in the state.

In July, the Union Health Ministry constituting a 10-member committee to look into the matter; the committee further constituted an eight-member sub-committee to draft the bill.

The Healthcare Service Personnel and Clinical Establishments (Prohibition of Violence and Damage to Property) Bill, 2019 is open for public feedback for a month.