Thiruvananthapuram: Despite having a stringent law for preventing assault on medical professionals and hospitals, there is no let up in cases of attacks on doctors and institutions in the state.
The doctors allege that police is not strictly enforcing the provisions under the Kerala Health Service Persons and Health Care Services Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage to Property) Act 2012. Under this law, violence against medical staff has been categorised as injuring, endangering life, intimidating or obstructing health care giver. Attack on a duty doctor, a hospital or its staff could attract te imprisonment up to three years and fine of Rs 50,000.
But the conviction rate under the law continues to be extremely low in the state even as medical professionals continue to be at the receiving and prone to frequent assaults from outsiders.
The doctors allege that the rate of registration of cases is low because of the failure of police to invoke the relevant sections.
Most incidents are seen as minor clashes between groups. Once the doctor files a complaint, the accused also comes with a counter petition.
“There was a slight decline in the attacks on hospitals when the law came into force. But incidents of assault on medical professionals are still happening. Lack of awareness among the police about the law is a major impediment in enforcing the provisions strictly. We feel that the existing law is not forceful enough to ensure stringent action against culprits. The Centre has proposed a new law with more imprisonment period and hefty fine and Kerala should go for a similar rule,” said Dr N Sulphi IMA state president.
Last year the State Police Chief had directed the police officers to take immediate action in the event of assault on medical professionals and health institutions. But that directive is yet to be implemented effectively on the ground.
According to office bearers of Kerala Government Medical Officers Association (KGMOA), there is lack of knowledge about the law among policemen, advocates, public and even doctors....