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How is Amendment in Epidemic Disease Act 1897 helpful in tackling attack on Corona Warriors?

Amendment in  Epidemic Disease Act 1897: Scientific developments have achieved new feats in almost every area of human and non-human life. Progress in science and technology, education, health, and space science are the strongest proofs of the same. But along with scientific development, challenges are coming in new forms. Currently, the entire world is facing the challenge of coronavirus outbreak.

The coronavirus has spread in more than 190 countries and the number of infected and diseased persons are increasing day by day. That is why every country and government is taking various measures to prevent the spread of this pandemic.

The Ministry of Health, Government of India, has decided to implement sections 2 and 3 of the 123-year-old law Epidemic Disease Act, 1897 on 11th March 2020.

After witnessing several incidents of attacks on the corona warriors, the concerned government has brought out an ordinance to sharpen the teeth of the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897.

Now let us known what is this Epidemic Disease Act, 1897, and why the Government of India has decided to implement it and amended in this act?

About Epidemic Disease Act, 1897

This act has 4 sections in total and is probably the shortest act in India. There are some powers have been given to the State government under Section 2 of this Act and some powers to the central government under Section 2 (A) to implement this act to control any epidemic.

Provisions in Section 2 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 

When the state government at any time feels that a dangerous epidemic is spreading in any part of that state or there is a possibility of the same, then;

If the state government is satisfied that the ordinary provisions of the law for the time being in force are insufficient for the purpose, may take strict actions or may empower any person to take, adequate measures by public notice, so that the outbreak of such disease or the spread thereof, can be checked.

In section 2b of the same Act, the State Government shall have the right to;

If the inspecting officer suspects, that People travelling by rail or port or otherwise are suffering from an epidemic, shall have the right to keep all such peoples in the hospital or temporary residence or Quarantine them for some time.

Section-2 (A) of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897:-

It states that when the Central Government is satisfied that an epidemic has spread or is likely to spread in India or any part of it and the Central Government feels that the ordinary provisions of the law for the time being in force are insufficient to prevent the outbreak of such disease or the spread thereof, the Central Government may take some drastic measures which include; 

i. Inspection of any ship or vessel leaving or arriving at any port in the country.

ii. To detain any person intending to sail therein, or arriving thereby, as may be necessary.

Section 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897:- 

This section has the provision of the Penalty under section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860).

If section 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 came into force, then non-compliance of the government order in relation to the epidemic would be an offence and the offender shall be punished as per Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code.

Apart from this, if a person takes any good step to prevent the outbreak of this disease, then no legal action shall be taken against him.

Amendments in Epidemic Disease Act, 1897:-

The Union Cabinet has approved promulgation of an Ordinance to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 to protect healthcare service personnel and their property including living/working premises during epidemics.

The President of India has also given his assent to this ordinance.

Some provisions of this ordinance include;

1. The amendment makes acts of violence, (against health workers and other medical staff) as a cognizable and non-bailable offence. 

2. Commission or instigation of violence against health workers shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of three months to five years and with fine of Rs.50,000/- to Rs.2,00,000.

3. In case of causing grievous hurt to the health workers, imprisonment shall be for a term six months to seven years and with fine of Rs.1,00,000/- to Rs.5,00,000/-.  

4. In addition, the offender shall also be liable to pay compensation to the victim and twice the fair market value for damage of property this includes living/working premises or car etc.

We hope the recent changes in the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897 would safeguard the life and property of the health workers and they would be able to serve the country better without any fear.

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