Editorial & Opinion

Epidemic Diseases Act – Offenders Can Be Booked For A Punishable Offence

Epidemic Diseases Act - Offenders Can Be Booked For A Punishable Offence 1

Anyone who hide facts related to epidemic disease and disobeys any regulation, under The Epidemic Diseases 1897 Act may be charged with an offence under Section 188 & 270 of the Indian Penal Code.

# anyone showing symptoms of the disease who refuses to self-isolate risks being charged with causing injury. And if a “careless” coronavirus sufferer goes on to pass the bug to an elderly person or someone made vulnerable by a pre-existing health condition, they can be charged.

# whoever malignantly commits any act which is, and which he knows or has reason to believe to be, likely to spread the infection of any disease dangerous to life, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.

Here’s what Indian Law says-

The Epidemic Diseases Act is the main legislative framework at the central level for the prevention and spread of dangerous epidemic diseases. The Act empowers the central government and State Government to take necessary measures to deal with dangerous epidemic disease.

Under the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897, Any person who disobeys any regulation or order made under the 1897 Act may be charged with an offence under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code.

Under Section 270 of the Indian Penal Code, whoever malignantly commits any act which is, and which he knows or has reason to believe to be, likely to spread the infection of any disease dangerous to life, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.

It is argued that quarantine affects the fundamental right “to move freely throughout the territory of India.” However, this right is subject to reasonable restrictions that the state may impose in the interest of public health.

The Epidemic Diseases Act also gives wide-ranging powers to the states. In such emergencies, the state may delegate some of these powers to the deputy commissioners in the districts typically through state health acts or municipal corporation acts.

A state government may also take measures and prescribe regulations for the inspection, vaccination, and inoculation of persons travelling by road or rail, including their segregation in a hospital, temporary accommodation, or otherwise, if such persons are suspected by the inspecting officer of being infected with any such disease.

Legal actions taken recently against violators

1. Kerala authorities is taking legal action against the Briton (part of a travel group, was among 20 passengers who were offloaded from a Dubai-bound Emirates flight at Kochi airport) for violating the Public Health Act, the travel agent who coordinated the tour programme and the manager of the resort.

2. A woman and her husband, a Google employee, returned to Bengaluru after a honeymoon in Italy. While the husband, who tested positive, was placed under quarantine, she took a flight to Delhi and then a train to Agra and hid in her parental home. It was only after the police was called in that she was taken to an isolation ward. As she and her father had misled authorities, they have been booked by the police under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897.

Raajan Joshi
Epidemic Diseases Act - Offenders Can Be Booked For A Punishable Offence 2

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