Punjab’s special law to protect doctors fails to deliver
Even as the Punjab government passed a special law, Punjab Protection of Medicare Service Persons and Medicare Services Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage to Property) in September 2008, there has been an increase in such cases over the past two years.
The Punjab chapter of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) claims that till 2017 - nine years to the passage of the law - around 200 cases of violence had been reported. Since then, the state has already seen 55 cases (around 25% of the previous tally).
The IMA also claims that the 2008 law also remained unused till 2017, the year the sections of the law were invoked for the first time to book accused who had ransacked Indrani Hospital in Bathinda and even assaulted a doctor.
“Such is the plight that police started using this act only in 2017 that too after repeated protests and demonstrations by the IMA,” says Punjab IMA president-elect president) and the longest-serving honorary secretary, Dr Navjot Dahiya.
The IMA added that it has been in only seven cases that FIRs were registered against those involved in attacking doctors under the 2008 law.
The rest of the cases ended in compromise. The IMA launched awareness campaign on violence against doctors across the country starting from Doctors’ Day which was celebrated on Monday (July 1).
Dr Dahiya adds, “The police did not use provisions of the Act and registered 18 FIRs under nor(next mal provisions of bailable sections of the IPC. Not even a single case witnessed conviction.”
Former Punjab Medical Council (PMC) president Dr GS Grewal, who during his tenure in the PMC, penalised many doctors for their fault during treatment, says violence against doctors in anyway is condemnable.
He adds, “There are many provisions available in our constitution, under which a doctor can be held liable for his wrongdoings. One can always move the police, the consumer court and the PMC and justice is done.” He adds, “I feel this violence is the result of the mistrust between doctors and patients. Patients don’t have faith in doctors. Patients instinctively feel that whatever tests or medicines the doctors will prescribe, it will be for monetary commission. Patients start suspecting doctors and in case of any mishap, violence erupts.”