Epidemic Diseases Act

Law Commission of India: In its 286th Report titled “A comprehensive review of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897”, the 22nd Law Commission recommended for suitable amendment to existing law for addressing existing gaps, or enactment of new comprehensive legislation on the subject.

The Commission expressed that the existing legislation exhibited significant deficiencies in addressing the containment and management of future epidemics, apprehending emergence of new infectious diseases or novel strains of existing pathogens.

The Commission pointed towards the constitutional and legal frameworks, and went on to highlight the limitations of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 by stating that “Given the shifting social patterns and growing population, the management, control and prevention of epidemic diseases cannot be restricted to a century old law. The law as it was originally enacted was not devised to meet the complex and manifold contingencies that are prevalent in contemporary society.”

The Commission sought to revise and review the 1897 Act to cover the current and future requirements in order to deal with the deadly epidemic diseases adversely impacting health of people at large. It was opined that “Considering the modern scientific advancements, the new or the amended Act should not only give the Government mere stipulated powers rather it should shape appropriate response mechanisms in preventing and controlling epidemic diseases.”

The Commission recommended for a clear definition of the terms like ‘epidemic’ ‘outbreak’ ‘pandemic’, demarcation of powers between Centre, State and local authorities to the micro level, definition of stages of the diseases. The Commission also suggested for clarity in difference between ‘quarantine’ and ‘isolation’, which may be taken up from the Epidemic Diseases Bill, 2023. While hinting towards the various regulations pertaining to social distancing enforced throughout the country during COVID-19, the Commission suggested defining the term in the 1897 Act and also recommended the use of term ‘physical distancing’.

Since epidemic situations require quick and concerted authoritative actions, the Commission pinpointed at the un-coordinated actions leading to duplicated efforts creating mass confusion in the absence of pre-planned mechanism. Thus, the Commission recommended the Central Government to prepare an Epidemic Plan for dealing with outbreaks/epidemics/pandemics in consultation with departments/authorities concerned, while further suggesting preparing quarantine and isolation guidelines in consonance with Indian Port Health Rules, 1955.

Most importantly, the Commission highlighted the need for provisions relating to lockdown and restriction on movements at such times, as important as disease surveillance, conducting medical testing and examination. It further suggested providing enhanced and stringent punishments as against the existing provisions.

Must Watch

maintenance to second wife

bail in false pretext of marriage

right to procreate of convict

Criminology, Penology and Victimology book release

Join the discussion

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.