The main aim of the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897 is to provide for the better prevention of the spread of Dangerous Epidemic Diseases. Section 2 of the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897 deals with the power of the State Government to take special measures and prescribe regulations as to dangerous epidemic disease. Section 2Aof the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897 deals with the power of the Central Government to take special measures and prescribe regulations as to dangerous epidemic disease. Section 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897 deals with the Penalty, and Section 4 of the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897 deals with the protection to the person acting underact.
Maharashtra Epidemic Act of 1897
The Maharashtra State Government, after being satisfied that the state is threatened with the spread of COVID-19 virus, has invoked the Maharashtra Epidemic Act 1897. World Health Organization has already declared the COVID-19 as a pandemic. The Government in the exercise of the powers that are contained under section 2 of the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897 and all other enabling provisions of the Disaster Management Act 2005 has notified lockdown in the entire State of Maharashtra till 31st March 2020.
It prescribes the following regulations and measures during the period of lockdown:
- All state borders shall be sealed except for the movement of essential and perishable commodities.
- Transport of passenger for accessing emergency medical services shall be allowed. All public transport services, including inter-city MSRTC buses and Metro, will not be allowed. In Taxis, only twopersons are allowed besides driver whereas, in Auto-rickshaws, only oneperson is allowed besides the driver.
- Plying of private vehicles shall be allowed for procuring essential commodities, health services and with only oneperson besides the driver.
- Operation of all inter-state bus and passenger transport services shall stand suspended.
- Every person (who is required to observe home quarantine) must strictly observe it. If any person fails to do so, then he shall be liable for penal action and will be shifted to Government quarantine.
- Residents must stay at home and can come out only for the activities that are allowed. They must strictly observe social distancing norms.
- Any congregation of more than fivepeople in a public place is restricted.
- All shops including commercial establishments, offices and factories, workshops, godowns, etc. shall remain closed except the shops and establishments providing essential goods and services
- During the period of lockdown, steps will be taken to ensure that there is no disruption in the supply of essential commodities to the people.
- Other regulations mentioned under the notification.
The people from the North-East and other states who are working in Maharashtra are facing the problems due to the lockdown orders. A representative of North-East migrants in Mumbai, Raikhan stated that they are all employed in the private and unorganized sector like hotels, restaurants, spas, salons, malls, etc. that has been severely affected due to the lockdown orders. They are also many people who are depended upon the daily wages for their livelihood. Loss of earning is the main issue because of the lockdown. The people from the North-East states have appealed the Maharashtra Government to look into their matter.
Measures taken by the Maharashtra Government
The Maharashtra Government has allocated Rs. 45 crore to districts worst affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had appealed to businesses to not fire their staff during the lockdown period. The Maharashtra Labour commissioner has directed labour department officials to issue advisories relating to this to the employers and owners of all establishments.
The Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has asked districts to set up relief camps for migrant labourers, and he even urged them not to leave the state.
The Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has also directed all the firms to allow work from home.
The Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray urged the giant corporates to utilise their CSR funds to feed the homeless people. The chief minister asked Reliance and Tata to use their CSR funds to feed the people who do not have access to essential commodities. The state government has allowed the shops of daily needs to function 24*7.
Maharashtra civic bodies are using apps in the fight against the coronavirus. The official stated that the municipal corporation of Thane, Navi Mumbai and Panvel had started using the Coviguard and Covicare mobile apps developed with the support of Directorate of Industries. He stated that the apps would be soon used in the municipal corporations in Kalyan-Dombivali, Ulhasnagar and Bhiwandi. The Coviguard app has been developed to keep in touch with people who are quarantined at their homes. Another mobile application named Covicare has also been developed to the municipal corporation in areas where health surveys are to be done. The Official stated that the App links would be sent to representatives of housing societies and details of society members would have to be submitted on the app.
The Coviguard and Covicare apps are developed by a young entrepreneur Vikas Auto from Panvel under the guidance of the State Development Commissioner (Industries).Hence, the apps are proving useful in getting health statistics of residents and also provide information on the area wise spread of COVID-19.
As there was a rise in the number of positive cases of COVID-19, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced a three-week nationwide lockdown in the country till 14th April 2020.
If any person disobeys any regulation or order, then he shall be deemed to have committed an offence that is punishable under section 188 of the Indian Penal Code. However, No suit or other legal proceeding shall lie against a person who has done an act or intended to be done in good faith.
Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code states the provision relating to the disobedience to order duly promulgated by the public servant. The person shall be punishable with simple imprisonment for the term which may extend for one month or with fine which may extend to Rs. 200 or with both. If the disobedience causes or tends to cause danger to human life, health or safety then the person shall be punishable with imprisonment for the term which may extend for six months or with fine which may extend to Rs. 1,000 or with both.