Bhubaneswar, Sep 30: The Odisha Assembly today passed the Epidemic Diseases (Odisha Amendment) Bill, 2020 to replace the Ordinances promulgated by the Governor earlier, amidst Opposition protest. The Ordinances promulgated on April 8 and August 31, 2020 had amended the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 to introduce the penal provisions of imprisonment up to two years and Rs 1 lakh or the both for violation of the law.
The enactment was brought in the legislature in view of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Piloting the Bill, Health Minister Naba Kishore Das said, “Covid-19 pandemic has created a huge public health crisis across the world. Government of Odisha has initiated various measures to contain the epidemic and has framed Odisha Covid-19 Regulations, 2020, exercising the power conferred under sections 2 and 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, !897.
However, the spread of the disease has not stopped and during the last one month there has been spike in Covid positive cases in the state.”
“Considering the need for stricter observance of guidelines for containing the spread of the disease and interrupt human to human transmission, it is felt necessary to enhance the penalty amount as provided in the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, in order to regulate the non-compliance of the mask use, spitting at public places, violation of social distancing norms and other matters provided in the said Regulations to bring in a sense of higher discipline “, said Das.
Stating that the epidemic which has caused extra-ordinary situation has to be dealt with extra-ordinary measures, the Minister said that the offence under the said Act has been made cognisable and bailable, making the punishment for contravention or disobedience of any order or regulation with imprisonment for term which may extend to two years and a fine up to Rs 1 lakh, or both.
Though the Minister said the legislation would contain the spread of any epidemic, Opposition members apprehended that the penal provisions would be misused to harass them.