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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 87

Medlegal advisory – For ophthalmologists

Advocate, Supreme Court of India, Hon. Director, Institute of Medicine & Law, Editor Emeritus, Medical Law Cases - For Doctors

Date of Submission11-Jun-2020
Date of Decision29-Sep-2020
Date of Acceptance29-Sep-2020
Date of Web Publication4-Dec-2020

Correspondence Address:
Mahendrakumar Bajpai
Advocate, Supreme Court of India, Hon. Director, Institute of Medicine & Law, Editor Emeritus, Medical Law Cases - For Doctors

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jcor.jcor_81_20

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How to cite this article:
Bajpai M. Medlegal advisory – For ophthalmologists. J Clin Ophthalmol Res 2020;8:87

How to cite this URL:
Bajpai M. Medlegal advisory – For ophthalmologists. J Clin Ophthalmol Res [serial online] 2020 [cited 2022 Jul 1];8:87. Available from: https://www.jcor.in/text.asp?2020/8/3/87/302202

  Do Not Fear Law, At Least in This Pandemic Top

The fear of law among doctors is not without reason. The exponential rise in the number of cases of medical negligence and the onerous compensation granted by the courts are only a few prominent reasons. And, this obviously is affecting their performance when they are discharging their professional duties. But, in this pandemic, Indian doctors have been indemnified from legal proceedings to a great extent.

On March 11, 2020, the Union Cabinet Secretary announced that all the states and union territories should invoke Section 2 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 (http://legislative.gov.in/sites/default/files/A1897-03.pdf).[1] Nearly all the states and union territories followed this directive. This gave the much-needed statutory support to the directions issued by the government and the local authorities to contain this pandemic. Anyone who disobeys the directions given by the authorities under this Act can be imprisoned.

It is Section 4 of this Act that very specifically gives legal protection to every person, including doctors, who have acted under the directions issued under this Act, subject to only one condition that they must have acted in good faith. Today, nearly all the authorities are exhorting doctors to start their clinics and practice. This provision will therefore bar any legal proceedings against the doctors and hospitals who have provided health care in this pandemic.

The other law that protects doctors is the recently promulgated ordinance on violence against doctors – The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 (http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/219108.pdf).[2] It treats violence against doctors as a special category and prescribes harsh punishment to the perpetrators.

The “act of violence” defined in this Act includes “harassment impacting the living or working conditions” and “intimidation.” This definition is very wide.

Furthermore, the punishment prescribed for any act of violence is from 3 months to 7 years and the fine that can be imposed is from Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 5 lakhs. The offence is cognizable and nonbailable. Trials have to be conducted on a day-to-day basis and concluded at the earliest. These provisions will not only deliver quick justice but also act as a deterrent.

Even the compensation that can be granted to a doctor or a hospital is on the higher side. Courts can grant additional compensation for hurt/grievous hurt. In case any loss or damage is caused to any property of the doctor or the hospital, the compensation payable will be twice the amount of the fair market value. The compensation granted by the court under this Act can be recovered as arrears of land revenue, which means less procedures and quick recovery.

The new law is one of the toughest penal laws of India and will provide the much-needed legal support to doctors against violence.

Unfortunately, both the aforementioned laws are temporary in nature and will remain in force only during this pandemic. The need for a permanent national law on violence against doctors is acute. To sum up, in this pandemic, the legal framework is in place to protect doctors. At least, for the next couple of months.

  References Top

Link to The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Ordinance; 2020. Available from: http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2020/219108.pdf. [Last accessed on 2020 Nov 19].  Back to cited text no. 1
Link to Epidemic Diseases Act; 1897. Available from: http://legislative.gov.in/sites/default/files/A1897-03.pdf. [Last accessed on 2020 Nov 19].  Back to cited text no. 2


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