Chhattisgarh invokes ESMA due to COVID-19, what is ESMA? All you need to know

The order applies to all the doctors, nurses, and health workers across all government and private health institutions as well as sanitation workers.

Created On: Apr 16, 2021 15:39 ISTModified On: Apr 16, 2021 15:39 IST
Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel, Image courtesy: Twitter/CMO Chhattisgarh

The Chhattisgarh government on April 16, 2021, invoked the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) due to the surge in COVID-19 cases. 

With the rising number of COVID-19 cases, the Chhattisgarh State Home Department has issued an order stating that the refusal to work in essential services is prohibited. The order applies to all the doctors, nurses, and health workers across all government and private health institutions as well as sanitation workers.

A tweet by the Chief Minister’s Office, Government of Chhattisgarh read, “The Government prohibits refusal to work in essential services. In the order issued by the Chhattisgarh Government Home Department, it is mentioned that it is necessary and in the public interest that the refusal to work in essential services should be prohibited.”

The order shall prohibit the employees to refuse from working in the operation of ambulance services, manufacturing, sale and transportation of medicines and drugs, medical equipment, and water and power supply services.

What is ESMA?

The Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) came into being in 1968.

The act was formed by the Parliament of India to maintain delivery of essential services during a strike, bandh, or refusal by the essential services workers.

The government can invoke the ESMA from prohibiting the employees or workers from refusal to work in the essential services to maintain the normal delivery of the services across the state or country.

What services are covered as essential services?

Services related to telephone, postal, railway, transport, manufacturing, sale, or transportation of essential goods or operation of essential services such as ambulance, healthcare, sanitation, water supply, defence of the country, supply of power, petroleum, coal, steel, or movement or storage of goods at any port, maintenance or repair of aircraft and their operation, clearance of goods or passengers at the customs.

What does the act prohibit the workers from?

The ESMA prohibits the workers or employees in the essential services from going on a strike or refusing to carry out their regular duties, refusing to work overtime if their work is essential to maintain the delivery of essential services in the state or country.

 What is the punishment for the violation of the ESMA act?

Anyone who begins or goes or remains on a strike shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend up to six months or with a fine up to two hundred rupees, or both.

Anyone who incites or instigates such strikes shall be punished imprisonment for a term which may extend up to one year, or with a fine of one thousand rupees, or both.

Anyone who does not comply with the laws in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (5 of 1898) post the implementation of ESMA will be arrested by a police officer without a warrant.

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