Updated: Sep 24, 2020
𝐌𝐫. 𝐑𝐚𝐣𝐚𝐭 𝐒𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐢𝐥𝐲𝐚 , 𝐒𝐭𝐮𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐭 , 𝐅𝐚𝐜𝐮𝐥𝐭𝐲 𝐨𝐟 𝐋𝐚𝐰 , 𝐀𝐥𝐢𝐠𝐚𝐫𝐡 𝐌𝐮𝐬𝐥𝐢𝐦 𝐔𝐧𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐢𝐭𝐲 .
The present time is the time of global pandemic and as many as 190+ countries in the world have been affected by the same and it is it is also declared as a ‘Global Pandemic’ by World Health Organisation (WHO) after seeing the global consequences of this epidemic called the ‘Corona Virus’.
When it comes to India then it can be seen that India is doing a stupendous job in countering the effects and impacts of the deadly Corona Virus (Covid 19) if its huge population is taken into account. It is also an obvious fact that in a particular legal mechanism is necessary to counter any sort of ‘public or health emergency’ and the Epidemic Diseases Act is one such legislation.
Now, when it comes to the ordinance and its subject matter then this article provides with a complete overview of the ordinance in a nutshell. The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Ordinance 2020 is an ordinance promulgated by the Honourable President of India exercising his ordinance making power provided under article 123 of the constitution of India to amend the already existing legislation of the year 1897 titled as the ‘Epidemic Diseases Act 1897’. An important thing to note here is that the said ordinance is the ‘fourth ordinance’ circulated by the president of the country in order to handle the situation of the pandemic. In this trying time of a grave medical emergency the doctors, paramedical staff, nurses and various other medical professionals have step forward in helping the mankind and it is the duty of the country to safeguard them from all the hazards that they might face during the discharge of their duties. In the same connection central government has come up with the with an amendment ordinance in the ‘Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897’. This amendment ordinance was passed on 22nd April 2020 which makes causing any sort of harm to the doctors, paramedical staff and nurses and all other related competent authority and other medical professionals during an epidemic a cognizable and non bailable offence through the provisions of this ordinance ,which would be punishable with imprisonment up to 5 years or fine up to rupees 2,00,000 or both.
WHY WAS THERE A NEED TO BRING IN SUCH ORDINANCE?
The need of such an ordinance in this hard time is because of the fact situation is getting worsened as many of the medical professionals were getting harassed and attacked by the common masses and anti social elements during the carrying out of the duties by the medical professionals. In this context, the case of Dr. Jerryl Banait vs. Union of India can be considered to be the foundation stone behind this ordinance. In this case The Honourable Supreme Court admitted and considered that medical professionals are facing a lot of profession hazards while dealing with the cases of Covid-19. Furthermore The Supreme Court directed the central government to make specific provisions and laws for the safeguarding of the doctors and the medical professionals in order to protect them from the present situation. Even advancing one step further, the Supreme Court of India criticized the violence that took place against doctors in medical professional in this present time of pandemic. There have been many instances throughout the country where the medical professionals and their properties and have been harmed by people. Keeping in view of the same situation and taking into consideration all the respective aspect in order to curb the same the ordinance was promulgated.
PROVISIONS OF THE ORDINANCE:
This ordinance criminalises any sort of attacks or damage caused to the people associated with the medical profession.
This ordinance goes to the extent of covering within its ambit the para medical staff and the ASHA workers too.
Further, in case of grievous hurt, the imprisonment can be upto a period of 6 months to 7 years and a fine ranging from Rs. 1 lakhs to Rs. 5 lakhs.
In the case of any damage done to the ambulances, medical vans or other medical related vehicles, an amount as much as of double the cost of the vehicle can be recovered from the accused person.
If the party to whom the payment of compensation is lawfully mandated fails to pay the same then in such a case the recovery of the due compensation shall be done in accordance and in the compliance of the provisions of the ‘Revenue Recovery Act 1890.’
Another crucial point regarding the ordinance is that in order to continue to be in operation it has to be approved by the parliament of the country with a span of 6 weeks from the inception of the next session of the parliament.
POSITION UNDER IPC:
In this present context, section 188 of IPC talks about the offence of disobedience of an order is promulgated by the public servant. In such a case a person who is disobeying the orders shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to 6 months and fine of Rs. 200 or both. Further, under chapter 14 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, section 269 talks about negligent act done which may be likely to cause infectious disease which may be dangerous to life and punishment in the same regard is imprisonment upto 6 months or fine or both and is an offence of a cognizable and bailable nature.
Moving further section 270 talks about malicious act done intentionally in order to spread infectious diseases which may be dangerous to life and is punishable by imprisonment up to a period of 2 years or with fine or both of them.
Another provision under the same context is section 271 of the Penal Code which Lays down provision for the disobedience of quarantine, in the case of disobedience of quarantine, imprisonment can be given upto a period of six months and also fine can be imposed or both can be imposed simultaneously.
EFFECT OF THE ORDINANCE:
The effect of law Ordinance is mainly positive as it is shown many as a positive outcomes and has lessened the number of cases of violence against medical professionals due to the harsh punishments prescribed in the ordinance.
In this present time of pandemic we have our frontline warriors fighting to save the nation in the form of medical professionals and police personals and many other people and professionals that are working day in and day out to keep the nation safe and also the government is actively working in the direction of saving the lives of people to the maximum. And also due emphasis is given to the fact that the dignity of the medical professionals and all the front line corona virus warriors in this hard time is protected and as a result the ordinance was brought in with the motive to safeguard the rights and the dignity of the professionals. The Epidemic Diseases Amendment Ordinance of 2020 was the need of the present situation as there was an increasing number of cases that of violence against the professionals which is which is not good for the country. the motive of this ordinance is to make and implement stick provisions with regard to the violence caused to the corona virus frontline warriors and to punish the offenders severely. This ordinance is also resulted in an increased awareness among the masses regarding the corona virus and its related rules and statutes as they are now more hesitant to commit any of the breach of the present situation laws as they are afraid of the fact that they will be punished severely. This Ordinance provides a sound base in this regard and can be said to be a very strong move by the competent legislative authorities in this trying time of global pandemic.
Even though India has specific legislation in many areas but still there is a need to get them implemented at the ground level properly. There is also a need to ensure better co-ordination between different levels of the government during the situation of grave emergencies. 1 such proposed legislation is the National Health Bill of 2009 that can be looked upon in order to manage and handle the crucial situations like that of health Emergencies in an effective way.
India, in the present context, is perceived to be an emerging ‘Asian Giant’ and if India wants to do well Globally then it has to leave no stone unturned in order to make its progressive vision a reality.
Indian Penal Code (45 Of 1860).
Epidemic Diseases Act 1897
Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Ordinance (4 of 2020)
‘Siddhartha Shankar Ray’, ‘The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020: An Ordinance that hit the nail on the head’, ‘Bar and Bench’, Published at 23rd May 2020 at 1:17 PM. Available at: https://www.barandbench.com/amp/story/columns%2Fan-ordinance-that-hit-the-nail-on-the-head-epidemic-diseases-amendment-ordinance-2020