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The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday directed state government to immediately respond to the issues of protection of medical workers on field apart from availability of Personal Protection Equipment.

The petitioner has pleaded before the court raising issues regarding failure to protect the life and limb of registered medical practitioners, workers and Accredited Social Health Activities (ASHA) workers and other accredited and non-accredited health workers.

The petition additionally relies on a detailed press note issued by the Union of India on March 13, 2020 which deals with ASHA workers and It is also pointed out that apart from issuing necessary guidelines, stringent action should be taken against the offenders and making available adequate Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to the aforesaid Medicare service personnel as well as the ASHA workers.

The petition elucidated to the court that doctors and health workers are often victims of worst forms of attacks on all fronts and the violence against doctors is on the rise throughout the world, the third prayer was regarding payment of salary and statutory benefits to Medicare workers.

The court keeping the seriousness of COVID-19 observed that there have been various reports of attacks on doctors and medical workers across India, including within Karnataka and an article published in the National Medical Journal of India in 2017, it was reported that seventy-five per cent of doctors have faced violence at work.

The petition also mentioned several instances of the doctors and health workers who have been attacked across the country during the nationwide Corona virus lockdown and informed the court about the legislation enacted by the state of Karnataka namely Prohibition of Violence against Medicare Service Personnel and Damage to Property in Medicare Service Institutions Act, 2009.

The case was heard by division bench headed by Chief Justice Abhay Sreeniwas Oka observed that there are about 43500 ASHA workers in the State of Karnataka and have no social safeguards or economic safety. The Court directed the state to take stringent action against offenders, and to reply to the first prayer seeking protection of medicare staff and regarding payment of salary and statutory benefits to medicare workers.

The court directed the state to file reply to the first and last prayer and to file the compliance report by 9th April and to list this group of petitions for further hearing on Thursday.

-India Legal Bureau

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