Srinagar: The J&K High Court issued notice to Indian Medical Association, Resident Doctors Association and Doctors Association of Kashmir about safety, healthcare and violence against healthcare professionals.
The directions came after amicus curiae, Monika Kohli, submitted that she has come across reports from J&K of an actual incident of doctors in Budgam who were held hostage by the public and of instances where doctors have been asked to vacate the hotel accommodation which they were occupying as they were engaged in undertaking Covid-19 containment and treatment measures.
The counsel submitted that the issue of safety, care, health and violence against these healthcare professionals needs to be addressed on priority in J&K and Ladakh.
The amicus curiae submitted that the stand taken by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India in these proceedings is most unfortunate and insensitive.
Kohli pointed out that despite the available framework and serious pandemic issues which are being addressed by healthcare professionals, these personnel are being subjected to extreme violence in a spate of incidents all over the country.
She further pointed out that valuable public property such as ambulances, police vehicles etc involved in COVID-19 issues, are being stoned and damaged for which there is no compensation.
She urged before the court that these public resources are already in extreme short supply.
The division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Rajnesh Oswal after hearing the counsel remarked that before examining the issue further, the view taken by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MEA) needs to be placed before it.
Earlier, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India had drafted the Healthcare Service Personnel and Clinical Establishments (Prohibition of Violence and Damage to Property) Bill, 2019 (“Draft Bill”) and sent it for the consideration of MEA.
In this regard, the court was informed that even public consultation on the Bill that was long over.
The bench directed assistant solicitor general of India, Vishal Sharma to file before it the concerns and objections of MEA on the said Bill which stood drafted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
The court also directed Monika Kohli and all the counsels to examine the Bill which was propounded by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and compare the same with the legislations enacted by the various states and UTs and make submissions there on the next date.
At previous hearing, the court pointed out that 19 states and three union territories have all framed serious legislations addressing this issue.
In another allied issue regarding availability of safety equipment to healthcare professionals, counsel Ateeb Kanth, pointed out that in a report filed by the Health Department, only 157 technicians are available for which reason insufficient sampling is being undertaken.
He submitted that as a result despite the government stand that 50,000 travellers have travelled into J&K, only 4,000 people have been tested for Covid-19.
The court after hearing the counsel directed J&K Chief Secretary and Secretary, Health and Medical Education, department, to urgently examine the issue.
Meanwhile, another application, filed by Deepika Mahajan seeking issuance of directions for subsidized Covid-19 tests, was moved before the court.
The court after going through the application directed the Department of Health and Medical Education to treat the application as a representation and take a view thereon.