Review of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 : Law Commission  |

 Review of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 : Law Commission 

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∙ The  22nd Law Commission of India has submitted its Report No. 286 titled “A Comprehensive Review of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897″ to the Government of India.

About the Epidemic Diseases Act(EDA), 1897

∙ It was formulated pre-independence mainly to control plague

∙ It provides for prevention of the spread of “dangerous epidemic diseases.

∙ Section 2 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.

∙ 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).

∙ 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

Highlights of Law Commission report 

∙ The existing legislation does not comprehensively address the concerns pertaining to  the containment and management of future epidemics in the country as new infectious diseases or novel strains of existing pathogens may emerge.

∙ Recommendations :It recommended creation of an Epidemic Plan and Standard Operation Procedure to address future epidemics

∙ The Epidemic Plan  should include provisions on quarantine, isolation, and lockdowns, while ensuring that the measures are implemented fairly, without violating the fundamental rights of citizens.

∙ SOP : To enforce this Epidemic Plan without resulting in conflicts between states and the Central government, the report suggests the creation of a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) which will “ensure proper and coordinated response to any epidemic with pre-defined powers and roles in case of a public health emergency”.

∙ The SOP defines three stages of the spread of infectious diseases as well as the responses at each stage. 

∙ At the first stage, “Outbreaks in the State”, the report recommends giving states the power to take “sufficient measures” that are in line with the Epidemic Plan.

∙ At the second stage, “Inter-State Spread of Epidemic Diseases/Pandemic”, the report suggests that the Central government should have the power to frame regulations on the basis of the Epidemic Plan, and states should act in accordance with these regulations.

∙ For the third stage, “Extreme Threat from Infectious Diseases”, the recommendations are similar to those provided for the second stage. 

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