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The Supreme Court has issued notice to the Centre and the Union Health and Law ministers on the matter of increasing incidents on attacks on doctors across the country.

The court issued the notices following a petition that sought laws be made to deal with such incidents. Two months ago, doctors across the country went on strike to demand better working conditions, following years of complaints about violent attacks from patients’ families. The strike followed a  violent attack on a junior doctor in Kolkata, Paribaha Mukhopadhyay inside a hospital premises following the death of a patient. A group of relatives of the dead man barged into the hospital and attacked the first doctor they saw, turning the hospital into a battleground.

Though the strike started at the hospital, doctors elsewhere  soon joined the the strike out of solidarity, and almost all the country’s doctors walked out to demand better protection.,Doctors in Kolkata were further angered by the hostile response of the state chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, who ordered them to go back to work without addressing their grievances. The anger, however, spread nationwide. It has become increasingly common for doctors to be jostled, roughed up or beaten by angry relatives of the recently deceased.

Earlier this week, the centre came out a with a draft legislation to make acts of violence against doctors, nurses, midwives, medical students, ambulance drivers and helpers a non-bailable offence. The draft also seeks to provide compensation for injury of these professionals as well as compensation for loss or damage to establishments including hospitals, clinics, dispensaries, sanatoriums, ambulances or even mobile units.

–India Legal Bureau

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