Centre invokes ‘Epidemic Act’ and ‘Disaster Management Act’ to prevent spread of coronavirus

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on March 12, 2020 Published on March 12, 2020

The Centre has decided to invoke Epidemic Act 1897, an act to provide for prevention of the spread of “dangerous epidemic diseases,” to combat novel coronavirus in India. The decision was taken in a meeting convened by the Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba yesterday with representatives of the Indian Army, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and other ministries, according to media reports.

All the states and union territories of India are advised to invoke the provisions of Section 2 of the Epidemic Disease Act 1897. The section includes special measures to be taken by the Centre to “prescribe regulations as to dangerous epidemic disease.” It also includes the detention of people or any vessel that come from international shores and are seen potent to spread the epidemic in the country.

The home ministry has also prohibited cruise ships, crew, or passengers from coronavirus-hit nations to come to India till March 31 under the act.

Section 2 of the Act states: “When at any time the State Government (now Centre) 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.”

The Act was formulated pre-independence mainly to control plague in the late 1800s.

The provisions of the Act state that the government can fine people or imprison them for violating rules and regulations that will be set to contain the outbreak. Section 3 of the Act states: "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).

The law also safeguards officials and gives them overarching superintendence of power who act under the provisions of this law to contain the outbreak.

According to Section 4 of the act, no suit or other legal proceedings shall lie against any person for anything done in good faith under the act.

According to the officials cited in the News18 report, the Act can be used to restrict the movement of suspected coronavirus patients to prevent further spread of the disease. The officials said the need to invoke the Act was felt to empower the central government to tackle the outbreak.

The Centre noted that the powers held by the home ministry under the Disaster Management Act shall be “delegated” to the health ministry so as to prepare India against the outbreak.

Published on March 12, 2020

A letter from the Editor

Dear Readers,

The coronavirus crisis has changed the world completely in the last few months. All of us have been locked into our homes, economic activity has come to a near standstill. Everyone has been impacted.

Including your favourite business and financial newspaper. Our printing and distribution chains have been severely disrupted across the country, leaving readers without access to newspapers. Newspaper delivery agents have also been unable to service their customers because of multiple restrictions.

In these difficult times, we, at BusinessLine have been working continuously every day so that you are informed about all the developments – whether on the pandemic, on policy responses, or the impact on the world of business and finance. Our team has been working round the clock to keep track of developments so that you – the reader – gets accurate information and actionable insights so that you can protect your jobs, businesses, finances and investments.

We are trying our best to ensure the newspaper reaches your hands every day. We have also ensured that even if your paper is not delivered, you can access BusinessLine in the e-paper format – just as it appears in print. Our website and apps too, are updated every minute, so that you can access the information you want anywhere, anytime.

But all this comes at a heavy cost. As you are aware, the lockdowns have wiped out almost all our entire revenue stream. Sustaining our quality journalism has become extremely challenging. That we have managed so far is thanks to your support. I thank all our subscribers – print and digital – for your support.

I appeal to all or readers to help us navigate these challenging times and help sustain one of the truly independent and credible voices in the world of Indian journalism. Doing so is easy. You can help us enormously simply by subscribing to our digital or e-paper editions. We offer several affordable subscription plans for our website, which includes Portfolio, our investment advisory section that offers rich investment advice from our highly qualified, in-house Research Bureau, the only such team in the Indian newspaper industry.

A little help from you can make a huge difference to the cause of quality journalism!

Support Quality Journalism
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor
You have read 1 out of 3 free articles for this week. For full access, please subscribe and get unlimited access to all sections.