In times of Covid-19 pandemic, which has halted not just commercial transactions but also lifestyles, the Indian Government took relevant steps to avoid mass spread of the virus, read out the preamble of the Epidemic Diseases Act and got to work.
The colonial era act, all of 123 years old, has once again come to our rescue. The Epidemic Diseases Act of 1897 (the “Act”) was put in place due to the mass spread of the bubonic plague outbreak in Mumbai (then Bombay). The plague, said to have spread through rats, killed hundreds of people per week in Mumbai.
Albeit the British colonial Government was said to have cleverly used the Act to imprison freedom fighters, the Indian Government is using the Act as a weapon to fight the novel virus and rightly so. While the Central Government’s powers are limited under the Act, it is the unity of various states in the country that has brought the Act in the forefront. Among other states, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Delhi and Kerala have issued advisories on management and brought into place ‘Covid-19 Regulations, 2020’ (“Regulations”). Vide these Regulations, states have exercised their powers under the Act to force employees of private establishments/ industries/factories/shops etc. to stay at home in the present times, to treat them as ‘on duty’; to stop all construction work immediately; to shut night clubs and weekly bazaars etc.
Continue Reading Epidemic Diseases Act 1897 – Dusting an Old Cloak