Kochi: The Kerala High Court, expressing concern over increasing incidents of physical attacks against doctors and other healthcare professionals in the State hospitals, on Thursday directed the police to launch an FIR within an hour of receiving complaints alleging such violence.
A Division Bench comprising Justices Devan Ramachandran and Kauser Edappagath said the violence against doctors was “certainly distressing” as statistically there were at least 10 or 12 incidents were being reported every month.
“As a first step, in addition to the earlier directions, we are of the firm view that every incident of attack on a doctor or a healthcare professional, including any other staff of the hospital – be that security or other – will have to be taken cognizance of by the Station House Officer of the police station concerned not later than one hour from the time on which it is reported to him,” the court ordered.
This can be under the Special Law applicable
“This can be under the Special Law applicable, or under the Indian Penal Code; but an FIR will be needed to be registered within the afore timeframe, which alone will ensure that the perpetrator/s understands that action is swift and quick”, it said.
The court gave this directive while suo motu impleading the State police chief in a case related to the attacks against the doctors and healthcare professionals in the State hospitals.
“Needless to say, swift action thereafter shall be initiated, including to apprehend the offenders, as and when it requires so, leading to prosecution and such other, as the law warrants”, the court said.
The Bench said it was more concerned because the court had been issuing orders in the past, under the hortative hope that the official system would function faultlessly; and that the citizens would also be aware of the imperative requirement to treat the healthcare system with the respect it deserves. “Alas, this does not appear to be so.” It said the discussions at the Bar today clearly show that, unless a sense of fear of law is instilled into the citizens, nothing can really change.
Citizens are not fearful of law
“Experience has shown us that citizens are not fearful of law, but of apprehension in case of misconduct or infraction”, it said.
The government submitted that every step as ordered by this Court in the earlier orders, including the establishment of police outposts in hospitals, had been implicitly adhered to by the government; and that they are willing to accept any other suggestion to be made, either by the Court or by the stakeholders in that regard.