The Kerala High Court has directed the State Government to hear the representatives while finalising the protocols for the production of persons from custody in hospitals or before doctors to ensure the safety of health workers.

A Division Bench comprising Justice Devan Ramachandran and Justice Kauser Edappagath ordered, “Though the policy of the Government with respect to the Government hospitals is certainly in the right direction, we are of the view that the affording of protection to private hospitals, on their request, by the SISF is also one that they must consider and address, particularly when they unequivocally say that they are willing to pay for such. … The Government will hear the representatives of the Kerala Judical Officers Association; Kerala University of Health Sciences (KUHS); Indian Medical Association, Kerala State Branch; Kerala Private Hospitals Association; Kerala Government Medical Officers Association (KGMOA) and Kerala Government Medical College Teachers Association (KGMCT), while finalising the protocols for production of persons from their custody.”

The Bench also directed that the Government will actively consider providing security cover to all hospitals be that Government or private through the SISF and that they will be at full liberty to consider and enumerate the terms, including for payment by the hospitals in the private sector.

Senior Advocate Shyam Divan appeared on behalf of the petitioner while Senior Government Pleader S. Kannan, Senior Advocate S. Gopakumaran Nair, Advocates Suraj T. Elenjikkal and M. Gopikrishnan appeared on behalf of the respondents.

In this case, a draft was prepared by the police department and submitted before the Government with respect to the protocols to be followed by the police while producing persons in their custody before Magistrates and healthcare professionals. Another matter was related to the issue regarding the protection to be offered to various categories of hospitals on a regular basis.

The Additional Director General of Police informed the Court that the services of the State Industrial Security Force (SISF) can be made available to both the Government and private sectors but on approved terms, while the Senior Government Pleader informed that the Health Department has been asked to make a list of hospitals on priority for the same. It was also submitted that the Government was of the opinion that they should make their own arrangements, without having to rely upon the SISF.

The High Court in the above regard noted, “This certainly is a welcome step, but, as we had said on the earlier date when this case was listed, same should be settled on a war-footing, because we cannot afford another incident to happen. … the State must also take into confidence the Association of Doctors and Judicial Officers, as also the Health University, while finalysing the protocols, because they are the persons who will be immediately affected by them in their professional capacity.”

The Court further noted that the Senior Government Pleader sought a month’s time for such a purpose but the Government’s decision in this regard shall be made available as far as practically possible by the next posting date.

“We make it clear that our earlier orders, regarding the registration of an FIR within an hour of the intimation to the Police of an incident involving an attack on medical professionals, will continue to be in effect”, clarified the Court.

Accordingly, the Court listed the matter on June 8, 2023.

Cause Title- Kerala Private Hospitals Association v. Adv. Sabu P. Joseph & Ors.

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