What is the Epidemic Disease Act 1897? Why is it being used to control COVID-19?
India invoked a colonial law to fight COVID-19, the novel coronavirus disease outbreak. The British Raj in 1897 enacted it to combat bubonic plague epidemic in Bombay Presidency. The Act for desperate times has now been invoked; ordinary legal provisions are not sufficient.
Section 2 of the Act lets local authorities inspect any premise, traveller
and enforce segregation. Section 3 mandates penalty on those who disobey the special provisions. Section 4 protects officers implementing the Act during an outbreak. It has been enforced by the Union government several times during outbreaks like swine flu. The Centre asked all states, UTs to enforce Section 2 after WHO declared a pandemic on March 11. Advisories of the Union health ministry are now enforceable. The act, however, does not comment upon citizens' rights . It also doesn't specify duties of the government in preventing a sudden outbreak.