Image Source: Piksit
Written by: Ruchi Nehra
The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 proclaimed on April 22nd, finally passed by the Rajya Sabha on 19th September 2020 amends the original act of 1897 with an aim “for the better prevention of the spread of dangerous epidemic diseases”. It revises the act to incorporate assurances for medical services staff encountering epidemic diseases and for prevention from same, strengthens the powers of the Union as given in the Act.
−HEALTH CARE SERVICE PERSONNEL is an individual who is in danger of being infected while following his obligations of protection from the epidemic. They can be public medical service providers like nurses and doctors, individual mentioned under the Act to help in the prevention of the spread of such epidemic or other individuals assigned by the state government.
−ACT OF VIOLENCE incorporates act done against any medical helper staff like- annoyance affecting his working and living conditions, damage or threat to life while discharging duties, being an obstacle during the fulfilment of his obligations, to destruct such documents or property kept in charge of medical services administration.
−PROPERTY incorporates clinical foundation, isolated/ quarantined place for infected ones, mini medic cubes and other property in interest of a medical service provider.
- Powers of the Central Government
The Epidemic Diseases(Amendment) Act,2020 expands the powers of Central Govt under Section 2A. The central govt may take measures for the inspection or detention of bus, train, aircraft, goods vehicle, ship or vessel arriving or departing from any port or aerodrome in the territory. It may also detain such person who intends to travel therein.
- Measures for protection of healthcare personnels and damage to property
Indulging in an act of violence towards a healthcare worker or causing damage to property during an epidemic is prohibited under the Act. It further extends that any person who commits or abets the same is punishable with imprisonment of 3 months which may extend upto 5 years and fine of 50,000 rupees which may extend upto 2 lakh rupees. If grievous hurt is caused to healthcare personnel during such act, it shall be punishable with 6 or period extending upto 7 years and a fine of 1 lakh which may extend to 5 lakh.
Any case registered shall be investigated by a police officer not below the rank of Inspector. The investigation needs to be completed within a period of 30 days from the date of registration of FIR.
The trial should be completed within 1 year and in other cases, the judge must record the reasons for the delay and may extend the time period up to 6 months at a time. The offence punishable under Section 3 is cognizable and non- bailable and may be compounded by the aggrieved on the permission of Court. A person prosecuted for causing serious harm to healthcare aid staff shall be presumed to be guilty by the Court until contradictory proved.
A person convicted shall be liable to pay damages to the aggrieved healthcare aid staff. Damages need to be fixed by the Court. In case of harm or deprivation of property, the amount of damages payable turns twice to the fair market value of the damaged property. If the person liable, fails to compensate for the damages, the aggregate shall be recovered in form of tax under “The Revenue Recovery Act,1890”.