An Epidemics disease Act of India 1897 – Analysis vis-a-vis the Covid-19 Pandemic

An Epidemics disease act of India  1897 –  Analysis vis-a-vis the Covid-19 Pandemic

This Research Paper is written by Divij Barolia, a Second Year LL.B Student at IME Law College, CCS University.


[1]The spread of Covid-19 has made world went crazy within some couple of months everything is changed whether it’s a country, people, rich or poor everyone is in shock, now the world is not what it used to be, economies of countries went down even Indian economy went down by -23.9% and it will almost a year to come back into the pre-pandemic stage. Many different laws have been enacted in India during the time of quarantine one was Epidemics Disease Act 1897 that was made at the time of British rule to handle Bubonic plague that broke out the state of Bombay. This act is usually implemented at the time of fast-spreading diseases like Cholera, Swine Flu, Dengue and Malaria. This act ensures that people and government are dealing in a fair way to tackle the crises like taking special measures of cleanliness and sanitation to protect the health, banning all the entry and exits whether its a state boundary or national, also it deals with the section 188 of IPC that procures punishment for disobeying quarantine rules and lastly state ensured that no legal action should be taken on anyone who performed any task with Bonafide Intention.  During Covid-19 this act has been enacted with an amendment that has a separate provision with the punishment for those who attack health workers/doctors with the offence being cognizable and non-bailable with imprisonment upto 7 years, This happened because of the rise in violence on doctors and health care workers.[para1]


[2]Corona viruses are the large family of infectious and communicable viruses that can be spread from physical contact with animals and humans. A person who is suffering from COVID-19 must be seen with symptoms like a Common cold, Fever, Lack of  Breathiness, Kidney Failure, lower the level of the respiratory system and at worst it can cause death. A person suffering from COVID-19 will be seen with symptoms within 2-14 days and on an average of 5 days. [para2]

This phenomenon was first detected in the Wuhan city of China, in Hubei province on 31st December 2019. Many theories are out regarding the spread of COVID-19, the Chinese government says that this virus is spread from bats and some people say that this is a bio-weapon that is prepared in Chinese laboratory to become a superpower nation but Chinese government completely denies the fact. We will get to know the truth in the upcoming days.[para3]

In India coronavirus came from migrants and Indians living in other nations. In India, the first case was reported on 30th January when three students returned to Kerala from Wuhan city. In March 2020 when cases started rising at a good rate the government has taken fair initiatives to control the situation.[para4]

After the great success of 14-hour Janta curfew on 22nd march Sunday, our honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi Ji has announced 21 days nationwide lockdown to control the upcoming crisis of COVID-19, so far we are very much successful in controlling the crises. The [3]second, third and fourth lockdown is too imposed in the nation till 3rd, 17th and 31st May because cases are on the rise and still we are not in the situation to get back to normal lives

Many big researchers and scientists have shown their theories to the world. A complete cure or vaccine is still not made, in India, we are treating it with Hydroxychloroquine (used to treat malaria patients) and even US president has also taken this vaccine from India.[para5]

Professor Sarah Gilbert (Vaccinology expert) at Oxford University along with her team is almost done with the vaccine, she says “ I am 80% confident that it’s going to work ” and trials in labs are now being started.[para6]

Epidemics disease act 1897

This is the 100s of years old law enacted at the time of the British government. It was made to control the spread of Epidemic Diseases like Malaria, Cholera, Dengue, and Swine Flu. In 1897 it was made to control the crises of Bubonic Plague that broke out in the state of Bombay at that time. The same act is enacted at this time when people have to quarantine themselves in their homes. Quarantine is defined as the state where people who are exposed to the disease have to keep themselves in isolation. A situation where they are not allowed to meet anyone.[para7]

Section 2 says that states are empowered to take special measures or promulgate regulations to deal with the epidemics in their jurisdiction.

When at any time the [State Government] is satisfied that [the state] or any part thereof is visited by, or threatened with an outbreak of any dangerous epidemic disease. the [state government], if it thinks that the ordinary provision of the law, for the time being enforced is insufficient for the purpose, may take, or require, or empower any person to take such measures and by public notice, prescribe such temporary regulations to be observed by the public or any person or by person or class of persons as it shall deem necessary to prevent the outbreak of such disease or the spread thereof, and may determine in what manner and by whom expenses incurred ( including compensation if any) shall be defrayed.

(2) In particular without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing provisions, the [state government] may take measures and prescribe regulations for.

(b) the inspection of persons travelling by railway or otherwise, and segregation, in hospital, temporary accommodation or otherwise, of persons suspected by the inspecting officer of being infected from any such disease.[para8]      

Section 2A of the act empowers the union government to take necessary measures and prescribe regulations to deal with dangerous Epidemic Diseases at ports of entry and exits.

When the central government is satisfied that India or any part thereof is visited by, or threatened with, an outbreak, of any dangerous epidemic disease and that the ordinary provisions of law for the time being in force are insufficient to the outbreak of such disease or the spread thereof, the central government may take measures and prescribe regulations for the inspection of any ship or [4]vessel, leaving or arriving at any port in [ the territory to which this act extends ], and for such detention thereof, or of any person intending to sail therein, or arriving thereby, as may be necessary. [para9]  

Section 3 stipulates that any person who disobeys any regulation or order made under the 1897 act may be charged with an offence under section 188 of IPC.

Any person who disobeys any regulation or order made under this act shall be deemed to have committed an offence punishable under section 188 of Indian penal code 1860.

Section 4 states that no suit or legal action will be taken against any individual or authority for anything done in good faith, under the act.

In any situation, if this act is committed with the Bonafide Intention/ not with the aim to harm anyone then no legal action will be taken against the accused

In 2020 a new Amendment in Epidemics act has been made with a provision to punish those who are attacking Doctors/Health workers. The offence will be cognizable and non-bailable with Imprisonment of 7 years because of the rise in violence on Doctors and Health workers.

 This act came into power at the time of spreading deadly diseases like Dengue, Cholera, Malaria and Swine Flu. In 2015 it was used to deal with Dengue and Malaria in Chandigarh and was used in Pune 2009. Also used in the region of Gujarat to stop Cholera from spreading.[para10]


At the time of pandemic circumstances, India proved to be a first mover. To control the crises steps which other countries have taken at a serious level the same steps India has taken at a ground level when COVID-19 started spreading in India. Enactment of complete lockdown proved to be the effective one unlike Italy, USA and Germany the situation is under control as we are blessed with some good political leaders, doctors, police department, ground-level Workers, Farmers and everyone working this time. One thing that rarely happens in our country has happened this time all the opposition leaders of different parties are together to control the situation and some leaders and their followers who belong to Bengal are not obeying the rules introduced so a necessary action must be taken against them. Even though from July onwards the unlock process was initiated but cases are still on the rise even today in India the number of reported cases are more than seventy-five thousand but the recovery rate is great too and the good news is that the death rate is around only one percent on the registered cases which is considered a good thing for the country people in India its affecting people in a different way if compared to the western countries also Epidemics Disease Act is proved to be very effective when implemented during a pandemic it has different provisions of how to deal with different aspects of the pandemic. [para11]


[1] Short summary on epidemics disease act 1897 and its situation in India with legal actions [para1]

[2] Introduction of covid-19 with symptoms [para2]

Where it was formed [para3]

How Covid-19 went to India [para4]

[3] Janta curfew and lockdown imposition and treatments [para5]

Vaccine preparation in oxford [para6]

Introduction to Epidemics Disease act [para7]

[4] Sections covered in epidemics act with latest 2020 amendment [para 8,9,10] [reference article]

[5] Closure statement of how much successful we are handling the pandemic [para11]