Recently, Delhi and Uttarakhand rolled out the Delhi and Uttarakhand Epidemic Diseases, COVID-19 Regulations under the ambit of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897.
Rationale behind imposition of Epidemic Act:
- Due to the outbreak of pandemic coronavirus more than 3,00,000 people have been infected and the death toll has crossed over 13,000.
- Epidemic act is used across the country for dealing with outbreaks of diseases such as swine flu, dengue, and cholera.
- The number of COVID-19 cases rose to 400 in India, with a death toll of seven.
Recent incidents when Epidemic Act was imposed:
- 2018: the district collector of Gujarat’s Vadodara issued a notification under the Act declaring the Khedkarmsiya village in Waghodia taluka as cholera-affected after 31 persons complained of symptoms of the disease.
- In 2015, to deal with malaria and
- , the Act was implemented and controlling officers were instructed to ensure the issuance of notices and challans of Rs 500 to offenders.
- In 2009, to tackle the swine flu outbreak in Pune, Section 2 powers were used to open screening centres in civic hospitals.
Epidemic Diseases Act 1897
History of the act
Provisions of the act
Power given to state governments under the act
- The act was introduced by the colonial government to tackle the epidemic of bubonic plague that had spread in the erstwhile Bombay Presidency in the 1890s.
- This act was used by colonial authorities to search suspected plague cases in homes and among passengers and to force segregation , evacuations, and demolitions of infected places.
- This act was criticised by historians for its misuse.for instance, Bal Gangadhar tilak was imprisoned for 8 months after his newspapers Kesari and Mahratta admonished imperial authorities for their handling of the plague epidemic.
- It aims to provide “for the better prevention of the spread of Dangerous Epidemic Diseases”.
- Section 2 empowers state governments/UTs to take special measures and formulate regulations for containing the outbreak.
- Outbreak of any dangerous epidemic disease: the state government may take or require to prescribe such temporary regulations to be observed by the public or by any person or class of persons as it shall deem necessary to prevent the outbreak of such disease.
- Section 3: Under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) , Section 3 of Epidemic Act empowers the state government to provide guidelines to penalise a person for disobeying any regulation or order made under the Act.
- State Government may take measures and prescribe regulations for:
- The inspection of persons travelling by railway or otherwise, and the segregation, in hospital, temporary accommodation or otherwise, of persons suspected by the inspecting officer of being infected with any such disease.
- Section 4: It gives legal protection to implementing officers.
Also read: Draft Policy On Rare Diseases Notified