The Union health ministry has constituted a 10-member committee to examine the feasibility of enacting a central law to stop violence against doctors across states. Currently, 19 states have such laws, but their implementation is poor, say experts.The committee, which held its first meeting on Wednesday, comprises representatives from the health ministry, hospital administrators, members of Indian Medical Association and Federation of Resident Doctors’ Association (FORDA).The move assumes significance as it comes in the wake of the country-wide protests by doctors last month after two medicos were allegedly assaulted by the relatives of a patient in a Kolkata hospital. “In the meeting of the stakeholders, there was a broad consensus that a central law is needed. The committee will now look into the specific provisions,” a senior health ministry official said requesting anonymity.A recent analysis of studies on violence against doctors in India shows that 100% of doctors in the emergency department and 75% of all doctors have faced either physical violence or verbal abuse. In 2007, Andhra Pradesh under the leadership of then chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy, became the first state to bring in a legislation to prevent violence against medical professionals. Under the law, violence against doctors is a non-bailable offence with a penalty of up to ₹50,000 and a jail term of up to three years. Even Delhi came up with the Medicare Service Persons and Medical Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage of Property) Act, 2008.Experts are, however, sceptical about their implementation. “There has been zero conviction of assailants under such laws so far. In fact, in the recent incident of violence in West Bengal after which doctors from across the country protested, the perpetrators have been released on bail for a surety deposit of just Rs 2,000,” said Dr Amrinder Singh Malhi, president of the Resident Doctors’ Association of All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) who attended the meeting on Wednesday.The representatives of FORDA also stated that the law should encompass not just doctors, but all paramedics, and staff at the hospitals..., FORDA said.