The Government of India promulgated an ordinance to the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 in order to include additional provisions in order to ensure the safety of healthcare personnel during an outbreak. This article discusses the provisions of the ordinance with regards to healthcare personnel and the penalties involved.

Who are Healthcare Personnel?

  • Public and clinical healthcare providers such as doctors and nurses,
  • Any person empowered under the Act to take measures to prevent the outbreak of the disease,
  • Other persons designated as such by the state government. 

What is an ‘Act of Violence’ under the ordinance?

  • Harassment impacting living or working conditions,
  • Harm, injury, hurt, or danger to life,
  • Obstruction in discharge of his duties,
  • Loss or damage to the property or documents of the healthcare service personnel.

Property defined under the ordinance

  • Clinical establishment,
  • Quarantine facility,
  • Mobile medical unit,
  • Any other property in which a healthcare service personnel has direct interest, in relation to the epidemic.

The provisions for protection of healthcare personnel and property

  • It provides that if anyone commits or aids any act of violence against a healthcare personnel or damage or loss to any property during the epidemic, it is punishable with imprisonment between three months and five years, and a fine between fifty thousand rupees and two lakh rupees. The offence can be compounded (i.e. charges can be dropped after reaching a compromise) by the victim after taking the permission of the court.
  • If there is an act of violence against the personnel that causes grievous harm, it is punishable with imprisonment between six months and seven years, and a fine between one lakh rupees and five lakh rupees.
  • An arrest can be made without a warrant on commission of any of the above sentences and both the offences are non-bailable.

Compensation to be paid

  • The persons who have been hurt by the above stated offences are also entitled to compensation from the perpetrators (the persons who have committed the crime). The compensation will be determined by the Court. In case of damage to property the compensation will be twice the fair market value of the property damaged.
  • If the perpetrators are unable to pay the compensation the same the amount will be recovered as an arrear of land revenue under the Revenue Recovery Act, 1890. (from the property owned by the perpetrators)

Investigation and Trial

  • The investigation regarding the offence must be done by a police officer not below the rank of an inspector within a period of 30 days from the registration of the FIR.
  • The trial must be conducted within one year. If it is delayed beyond this one year period, the judge must record the reasons for the same.