Existing legal provisions enough to address violence against doctors: Maha govt

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Mumbai, Mar 11 (PTI) The Maharashtra government has told the Bombay High Court that the existing legal provisions, including the 2010 Maharashtra Medicare Service Persons Act, are enough to deal with rising incidents of violence against doctors and medical staff.

In an affidavit filed in the court on Monday, the state government submitted that the above Act and provisions of the Indian Penal Code were enforced in cases of relatives or acquaintances of patients assaulting doctors and hospital staff.

At least 302 cases of assault on healthcare professionals had been registered across the state between January 2017 and March 2021, the state submitted.

Of these, 231 cases alone were registered in 2020, it was stated.

The state was responding to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by one Dr Rajeev Joshi seeking judicial intervention to curb violence against healthcare professionals.

As per the PIL, Maharashtra witnesses maximum number of such instances of violence.

The petitioner also claimed in his plea that the state government had failed to implement existing legal provisions, including the 2010 Act, to curb such instances.

However, in its affidavit filed through Kishor Bhalerao, deputy secretary, state home department, the state government submitted that it took prompt action whenever such cases were reported.

It also said that 1,088 security guards of the Maharashtra State Security Corporation had been deployed at all government medical college-affiliated hospitals in the state.

Apart from this, over 500 regular security guards were also deployed at such hospitals, the state said in the affidavit.

According to the affidavit, the 2010 Act attracts imprisonment for three years and a fine of Rs 50,000 for people convicted for assaults or attacks on medical staff, for damaging hospital property etc.

The government, however, said that while it believed the existing legal provisions were adequate, it was open to forming a committee to look into the shortcomings of the existing Act, if the court so directed.

The High Court will hear the matter later this month.