Rajya Sabha Passed the Epidemic Diseases Amendment Bill, 2020

Rajya Sabha has passed the Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Bill, 2020 on September 19, 2020.  It amends the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897. Now it will include protections for healthcare service personnel who are combating the epidemic diseases . The bill also expands the powers of the central government to prevent the spread of such diseases.

Key Facts

  • The Bill replaces the Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Ordinance which was promulgated in April 2020.
  • This makes harm, injury, hurt or danger to the life of any healthcare service personnel,  a cognizable and non-bailable offence.
  • In such cases, there is a provision of imprisonment from three months to five years and a fine between 50 thousand rupees to two lakh rupee.

Key Provisions of the Bill

  1. The Bill defines healthcare service personnel as the persons who are at risk of contracting the epidemic disease while being on duty related to the epidemic.
  2. As per the bill, the healthcare services personnel include-
    • public and clinical healthcare providers inlcuding doctors and nurses.
    • Person who are empowered to take preventable measures against the outbreak of the disease.
    • Any persons designated as such by the state government.
  3. The bill defines the ‘act of violence’ committed against a healthcare service personnel as:
    • harassment over living or working conditions,
    • harm, injury, hurt, or danger to their life
    •  obstruction made in the discharge of duties
    •  loss or damage to the property or documents of the healthcare service personnel.
  4. Persons who have committed the offences will have to pay compensation to the healthcare service personnel.
  5. Cases registered under the Bill will be investigated by a police officer above the rank of Inspector.
  6. The investigation must be completed within 30 days from the date of First Information Report (FIR)
  7. The inquiry or trial should be concluded within one year.
  8. It gives the central government power to regulate:
    • Inspection of any ship or vessel leaving or arriving at any port.
    • detention of any person intending to travel from the port during any outbreak.

Thus, the legislation aims to create an environment of zero tolerance towards violence against healthcare service personnel.

Current Affairs