Focus: GS-II Governance, GS-III Disaster Management, Prelims
Why in news?
- The West Bengal government on 16th March 2020, invoked the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 and extended the closure of the educational institutions from March 31 to April 15.
- The wife and father of the coronavirus infected Google employee in Bangalore have been booked by the police under the Epidemic Disease Act 1897 for lying to health officials.
- The Centre has advised States and Union Territories to invoke provisions of the Section 2 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 so that all advisories being issued from time to time by are enforceable.
- An FIR will be lodged against those lying to health officials under Indian Penal Code sections 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and 270 (malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life).
Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897
- The Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 is a law which was first enacted to tackle bubonic plague in Bombay state in former British India.
- The law is meant for containment of epidemics by providing special powers that are required for the implementation of containment measures to control the spread of the disease.
- The Act has been routinely used to contain various diseases in India such as swine flu, cholera, malaria and dengue.
Section 2 of Epidemic Diseases Act
2. Power to take special measures and prescribe regulations as to dangerous epidemic disease
(1) When at any time the [State Government] is satisfied that [the State] or any part thereof is visited by, or threatened with, an outbreak of any dangerous epidemic disease, the [State Government], if [it] thinks that the ordinary provisions of the law for the time being in force are insufficient for the purpose, may take, or require or empower any person to take, such measures and, by public notice, 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 or the spread thereof, and may determine in what manner and by whom any expenses incurred (including compensation if any) shall be defrayed.
Any person disobeying any regulation or order made under this Act shall be deemed to have committed an offence punishable under section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860).
4. Protection to persons acting under Act.
No suit or other legal proceeding shall lie against any person for anything done or in good faith intended to be done under this Act.
Epidemic Diseases Act in the Past
In 2018 the Act was enforced as cholera began to spread in a region of Gujarat. In 2015, it was used to deal with dengue and malaria in Chandigarh and in 2009 it was invoked in Pune to combat swine flu.