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Effect of COVID-19 on Human Rights of Medical Professional in India

To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity - Nelson Mandela

The outbreak of COVID-19 has arrested the heart of whole world and made the whole world asphyxiate and sadly many people are even dying because of this epidemic.Whenever a calamity falls on this earth, it becomes the moral responsibility of the humans to step up and provide the assistance in whatever way they can. When it comes to medical calamity, then it is necessary for the medical professionals to come up and stand united to fight against the evil.

In this hard time the first line of defence for the whole world are the medical staffs like doctors, nurses etc. As the whole world has now already under the threat of this enemy of the humanity, the only support and warriors are the doctors who are working day and night even by putting their own and their family life at risk. Sadly by performing as per their Hippocratic oath many warriors (doctors, nurses etc) lost their life.

WHO (World Health Organisation ) on 27th Feb 2020 said ˜The doctors and the medical staffs who are the first line of defence of the country in combatting this pandemic have to be protected by providing personal protective equipments as recommended by WHO.

In between the most shocking and strange is the attack on these soldiers of humanity by those for whom they are risking their life and working. The incident of attack on doctors in Tatpatti Bakhal's locality in Indore where medical staffs who had gone to screen certain persons regarding coronavirus were attacked and stones were pelted.

Principle of human rights as first emphasised in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights in 1948, human rights are rights inherent to all human being, whatever nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic.

All human rights are indivisible, whether they are civil and political rights, such as the right to life, equality before the law and freedom of expression; economic, social and cultural rights, such as the rights to work, social security and education , or collective rights, such as the rights to development and self-determination, are indivisible, interrelated and interdependent. The improvement of one right facilitates advancement of the others. Likewise, the deprivation of one right adversely affects the others.

The concept of human rights can be traced to the natural law philosophers like Locke and Rousseau, they propounded the theory of Social Compact.
According to Locke man is born with a title to perfect freedom and an uncontrolled enjoyment of all rights and privileges of the law of nature and he has by nature a power to preserve his property, that is, his life, liberty, and estate, against the injuries and attempt from other mens.

Now coming to the Indian context the principle of Human Rights got place in the form of Fundamental Rights in the Part-III of the Constitution of India and which is declared as the basic structure of the Indian Constitution vide Keshvananda Bharti case by the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India and Part III of the constitution was held to protect substantive as well ans procedural rights.

Now coming to the main point which is the effect of COVID-19 on the human rights of Medical professionals in India. First of all the thing which come in mind is that it is the hippocratic oath taken by the doctors and declarations like Geneva 1948 and 'declaration of Helsinki' to set rules for ethical conducts of the doctors by which they are bound and even due to their onus towards the society which they can not ignore. And today we must appreciate the work done by the medical professional in this time when the whole humanity is at stake and the only one who can help us is the medical professional. In India the total total no of recovered patients is very much high as compared to the other countries and we must thank to the medical professional for their brilliant work done in this peak hour.

One thing which regularly keep hunting in my mind is that the doctors are duty bound by the virtue of hippocratic oath and Geneva declaration of 1948 or Helsinki declaration but what is the people's duty toward those warriors who is putting their life in danger for the sake of people, we always have a special dignity for the soldiers who fight on the borders for the country, we always see them as a pride of the country, but ironically when today medical professionals are doing the same thing for the country they are being subject to stone pelting, abusive language and even teasing to some of the nurses.

Which is totally violation of the human rights of them. It is shameful for the govt also when doctors are ill equipped for the facilities and protection kits which should be provided to them by the government. Article 21 of Constitution of India provided for right to life and by throwing of doctors' life in peril due to lack of kits is totally infringement of their life to life, broad formulation of the theme of life to dignity is to be found in Bandhua Mukti Morcha v. Union of India characterizing Art. 21 as the heart of fundamental rights, the Supreme Court gave it an expanded interpretation. Bhagwati J. observed:
It is the fundamental right of everyone in this countryŚ to live with human dignity free from exploitation. This right to live with human dignity enshrined in Article 21 derives its life breath from the Directive Principles of State Policy and particularly clauses (e) and (f) of Article 39 and Articles 41 and 42 and at the least, therefore, it must include protection of the health and strength of workers, men and women, and of the tender age of children against abuse, opportunities and facilities for children to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity, educational facilities, just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief.

These are the minimum requirements which must exist in order to enable a person to live with human dignity and no State neither the Central Government nor any State Government-has the right to take any action which will deprive a person of the enjoyment of these basic essentials.

Doctors are facing many more hurdles in their life as they are being tortured by the landlords or society people as they are facing the stigma and considered as the carrier of the novel corona virus and they are being threatened to vacate their rented accommodation without any notice.

It is also against article 21 of the Constitution of India. SC in Chameli Singh v. State of U.P. held that right to shelter is a fundamental right available to every citizen and it was read into article 21 of the constitution.

In one incident during the lockdown a Chennai based doctor was denied of burial by a mob because the reason of death was Coronavirus.

Right to reputation is also under the ambit of right to life Supreme Court in State of Maharashtra v Public Concern of Governance Trust while giving giving reference to American Court decision in D.F.Marion v Minnie Davis held that:
good reputation as an element of personal security and is protected by the constitution equally with the right to enjoyment of life, liberty and property. It was held that covers the right of reputation equally during and after the life.

Further right to health which is also included under the ambit of Article 21 of the constitution and it was held by Supreme Court in Paramnanda Katara v. UOI that it is duty of all the doctors to provide medical assistance to the patient without legal formalities but the medical professionals who is to be provider of the service also has right to health against the state as SC held in State of Punjab v M.S.Chawla:
that right to life guaranteed under article 21 includes within its ambit right to health and medical care. So, depriving or not being able to provide the equipments necessary for the safety of medical professionals and in one way or another infringement of their rights and exposing them under the threat intentionally, and it would be same as we send the soldiers on the border without arms and ammunition. Recent news reveals that doctors in India doesn't have PPE kits and even at some places medical professionals are forced to use raincoats and motor helmets as their safety equipments.

Due to which several doctors has been tasted positive for Corona and not only them but there families also get effected by this virus.

According to Home Ministry officials over 50 doctors has been tasted positive and quarantined till now, which is a black spot on the government and administration, that we are not even able enough to provide equipment to our Corona Warriors

As the situation of global epidemic arises, we need for a new medical system, a new way of struggle, but we are not able to see a new way immediately.

Hazmat Suits, PPE, starch apparels, medical masks, goggles, face shield, respirators and head covers should be made available to all health workers like doctors, nurses, ward boys, medical and para-medical professionals who are attending COVID-19 patients. A very good step taken by govt by by promulgating Epidemic Diseases Act, and making any physical violence against any health worker a non-bailable offence with imprisonment and fine.

All the health-workers are corona warrior and deserve respect and love and should not be subject to any harassment and torture. Written by: Adv. Chaitanya

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