Protect doctors, staff from assault by kin of Covid patients: HC tells Maharashtra govt
The Bombay high court (HC) on Thursday directed the state to furnish details of first information reports (FIR) registered against persons who were guilty of assaulting doctors and other staff amid the ongoing pandemic. The court held it was the responsibility of society and authorities to protect the doctors and other medical service providers who are working tirelessly. The bench also noted that doctors and medical staff should not be made scapegoats for lack of drugs or oxygen not being supplied by authorities.
A division bench of chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice Girish Kulkarni, while hearing public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Dr Rajeev Joshi through advocate Nitin Deshpande, was informed of instances of assault on doctors by the kin of patients.
The petition stated that Maharashtra witnessed a maximum number of such instances of violence and the government had failed to implement legal provisions including those under Maharashtra Medical Service Person and Medical Service Institution Act, 2010 to curb such incidents.
“We have to protect doctors, and medical services providers at this hour, especially when they are tirelessly working for us under stress. As a responsible state, we will fail in our duty if we do not protect them... It is of paramount interest. They are saving society,” observed the bench.
Additional public prosecutor Dr FR Shaikh for the state submitted that in cases of relatives or acquaintances of patients assaulting doctors and hospital staff the provisions of the 2010 Act and Indian Penal Code were being applied.
The court then asked the state government to comply with the assurance given to the HC in 2016 regarding providing police protection in hospitals and installing CCTV surveillance and directed the state government to inform it about the status of its implementation. The bench also asked the association of doctors and medical consultants to give their suggestions for proper implementation of the said legal provisions and asked the government to respond by May 18.
Meanwhile, the court while hearing a PIL filed by Lokshahiwadi Balasaheb Sarode Smriti Prabodhan Upakram through advocates Asim Sarode and Ajinkya Udane which sought proper disposal of medical waste was informed that the state should also be directed to provide special masks for speech and audio impaired people for their identification.
The bench then directed the state government to ensure that all district collectors and municipal commissioners observed the proper implementation of disposal of medical waste from Covid-19 related treatment across all hospitals in Maharashtra. The bench stressed the need for authorities to strictly abide by the guidelines issued by the Central Pollution Control Board with regards to the disposal of medical wastes.
The HC also directed the authorities to formulate a system for the distribution of special masks for speech and audio impaired persons as well as pavement dwellers after the petitioner informed that while the state has claimed that it has arranged for such special masks, there was no distribution system in place.
The bench also suggested that it is the right time to implement the Anti-begging Act, to prevent the spread of coronavirus and provide rehabilitation to the beggars.
Further hearing of the PILs will take place on May 19.