Supreme Court To Hear Pil Seeking Protection For Doctors Today

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The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a petition on 18th June filed seeking security for doctors in government hospitals across the country.

In the wake of strikes called by doctors across the country to protest the attack on a doctor in West Bengal, PIL has been filed in Supreme Court seeking protection for doctors.

The PIL seeks a direction to the Central government to deploy uniformed security personnel at every government hospital to ensure the safety of doctors. PIL has also prayed for a direction to the government to formulate guidelines for the safety of doctors and for the same to be implemented in “letter and spirit”.

Additionally, the petition also seeks a direction to the State of West Bengal to take stringent action against those who assaulted the junior doctor in NRS Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata.

The matter was mentioned today i.e. 17th June 2019 for urgent hearing by Advocate Alak Alom Shrivastava. The Vacation Bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Surya Kant agreed to list the case on, June 18.

The furore was caused by an incident at the NRS Hospital, in which a junior doctor, Paribaha Mukhopadhyay, was severely injured by a mob of people angered by the death of a 75-year-old patient. Junior doctors at the hospital then led an agitation protesting the incident.

Later, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee criticised the agitation and urged the doctors to resume work. This sparked protests in other Kolkata hospitals, and eventually spread to other parts of the country.

The matter had even reached the Calcutta High Court, which last week urged the State government to take measures to resolve the grievances raised by the striking doctors, Further, the Bench also appealed that the doctors take up a reconciliatory approach in the larger interest of their patients.

However, the Court refused to grant any interim relief in the PIL. The matter in the High Court is scheduled to be heard on June 21.

In the Year 2017, when I was National President of Indian Medical Association, the Honble Delhi High Court had suo moto taken cognizance of the issue of incidents of doctors in public hospitals being subjected to extreme violence at the hands of the patients and/or their attendants. In the said case, the Honble High Court of Delhi had suo moto made Indian Medical Association a party. The said writ petition WP(C) 3903/2017 is still pending and the next date of hearing is 20th August, 2019.

National IMA is also likely to implead in the case in public interest.

With inputs from Advocate Ira Gupta

No politics with doctors please

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Doctors are and will remain next to God. The medical profession is and will remain a noble profession.

In an All-Dharma Gurus spiritual meeting, gurus from all religions participated, and I too spoke on medical profession as also a religion or dharma.

Whether it is doing your duty with devotion and discipline, unconditional love, compassion, nonviolence, unity in diversity, detached attachment and selfless service, all these components of any religion are also the duties of a doctor.

Medical profession should not be politicized. The current strike in West Bengal should be taken up as a national emergency.

Recently, an Indian businessman was sentenced to life in prison for a fake hijack threat on a domestic flight in 2017 that resulted in an emergency landing. Birju Kishor Salla, a resident of Mumbai, was arrested and charged for posing a threat to the safety of passengers and crew on board a plane. He was also fined 50 million rupees ($720,000), which a special NIA court ruled would be given as compensation to the crew and passengers. The 2017 incident, on a flight from Mumbai to New Delhi, resulted in the grounding of the plane belonging to the now-defunct Jet Airways airline.

Each pilot will get compensation of 100,000 rupees out of the fine amount, while each member of the cabin crew will receive 50,000 rupees, and each passenger will be paid 25,000 rupees for the “misery” the incident caused, according to a statement released by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Is the case of a hospital different?

When a doctor is beaten or assaulted, the situation is the same. The safety of all the patients in a hospital is at stake.

The number of patients in a hospital may be larger than the number of passengers in a plane. In this case it not the threat but the doctor (the pilot) was actually beaten.

Opportunities lost

Instead of playing politics

  • The BJP central government should immediately announce the central Act against violence on doctors and medical establishments in the forthcoming Parliament session or by an ordinance.
  • The West Bengal Chief Minister should announce a stringent action against all the accused and announce a compensation to all hurt.
  • Rahul Gandhi and all opposition leaders should side with the doctors and appeal for a central law in the coming parliament session.

But do politicians really care about the doctors?

Dr KK Aggarwal

Padma Shri Awardee

President Elect Confederation of Medical Associations in Asia and Oceania   (CMAAO)

Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications

President Heart Care Foundation of India

Past National President IMA

Will the government consider comprehensive insurance for doctors?

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Secretary Legal Affairs to head a committee on Comprehensive Insurance Scheme for Advocates: This should have been explored for doctors first

My colleague Ira, an advocate brought to my attention a recent PIB release (dated 8th March, 2019), which stated that the Government has set-up a five-member committee to examine the issues related to framing of a proper, structured scheme for providing of medical insurance cover to the advocates and also suggest modalities for the implementation of such scheme.

The Union Minister for Law set-up the committer under the chairmanship of Secretary Legal Affairs with members including a senior representative from the Department of Financial Services, representative of Department of legal affairs and one representative each from Bar Council of India and State Bar Councils.

The committee shall, within three months, recommend a comprehensive insurance scheme for the welfare of the advocates all over India to address concerns relating to untimely death and medical insurance.

The scheme may include assistance from central and state governments as also involvement of State Bar Councils and in the representatives operating lawyer’s welfare fund.

In 2001, the Central government had enacted the Advocates Welfare Fund Act, 2001 to provide for the Constitution of a Welfare Fund for the benefits of advocates across the country. This act came into force on 14th September, 2001

All practicing lawyers are entitled to membership of the Fund under Section 18 (1) of the Act (as below) at an annual subscription of Rs 50/- to be paid before 31st March. Senior advocates are required to pay an annual subscription of Rs 100/-, as per Section 18 (5)

“18. Membership in Fund

(1) Every advocate practising, before the commencement of this Act, in any court, tribunal or other authority in a State and being a member of a State Bar Association or a State Advocates’ Association in that State, shall apply, within six months of the commencement of this Act, to the Trustee Committee for admission as a member of the Fund, in such form as may be prescribed.

(2) Every person,—

(a) admitted as an advocate on the roll of a State Bar Council, after the commencement of this Act;

(b) practising in any court, tribunal or other authority in a State and being a member of a State Bar Association or a State Advocates’ Association in that State,

shall apply, within six months of his enrolment as an advocate, to the Trustee Committee, for admission as a member of the Fund in such form as may be prescribed.”

Some of the provisions of the Act are as under:

  • The Trustee Committee on an application made to it by a member of the Fund, and after being satisfied about the genuineness of the claim, may allow ex gratia grant from the Fund in case of hospitalisation or major surgical operation or if he is suffering from TB, leprosy, paralysis, cancer, unsoundness of mind or from such other serious disease or disability (Section 19).
  • Every advocate who has been the member of the fund for a period not less than five years shall, shall on the cession of his practice, be paid an amount at the rate specified in Schedule I. If the member dies before receiving such amount payable to him, his nominee or legal heir shall be entitled to receive the amount payable to the deceased member (Section 21).
  • The interest of any member in the Fund, or the right of a member of the Fund or his nominee or legal heir to receive any amount from the Fund, shall not be assigned, alienated, or charged and shall not be liable to attachment under any decree or order of any court, tribunal or other authority. Also, no creditor shall be entitled to proceed against the Fund or the interest therein of any member of the Fund or his nominee or legal heir (Section 22)
  • All income, profits or gains accrued to the Fund shall be exempt from income-tax (Section 23).
  • The Trustee Committee may, for the welfare of the members of the Fund obtain, from the Life Insurance Corporation of India or any other insurer, policies of Group Insurance on the life of the members of the Fund; or provide, in such manner as may be prescribed, for medical and educational facilities for the members of the Fund and their dependants; or provide monies to the members of the Fund for purchase of books; or provide monies to construct or maintain common facilities for the members of the Fund or provide funds for any other purpose which the Trustee Committee may specify; or provide for such other benefits as may be prescribed (Section 24).
  • Senior advocates, or those receiving pension from the Central/State Government are not eligible for ex gratia grant or other benefits under the various provisions of the Act (Section 28).

I personally feel the medical profession too should have been accorded equal priority.

Medical profession is a high-risk profession. Doctors on an average die a decade earlier than non-doctor professionals. They are exposed to various antibiotic resistant infections, contagious and infectious diseases and are at a higher risk of work fatigue, mental problems, heart attacks, paralysis and cancers.

A similar comprehensive insurance for doctors will be an added incentive to stay happy in the profession. Till this is done all doctors may be considered for Central Health Government Scheme (CGHS).

Dr KK Aggarwal

Padma Shri Awardee

President Elect Confederation of Medical Associations in Asia and Oceania   (CMAAO)

Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications

President Heart Care Foundation of India

Past National President IMA

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