The Karnataka Epidemic Diseases Ordinance, 2020 passed to protect Officials engaged in COVID-19 Relief work, challenged in Karnataka High Court

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Advocate G R Mohan filed a petition in the Karnataka High Court, challenging “The Karnataka Epidemic Diseases Ordinance, 2020”, which came into effect on April 22, passed to protect, from physical harm, the officials engaged in duty in the fight against COVID-19.

The petition mentions how the Health workers, doctors and also the police personnel are vulnerable to attack while carrying out the identification of Coronavirus affected persons. This comes in the wake of an incident that took place in Padarayanapura BBMP Ward, Bengaluru where the health personnel were attacked, sustaining injuries and several properties having been vandalized by anti-social elements.

The Central Government’s approval of the amendment of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 precedes the Karnataka Government’s Ordinance. The former makes an attack against doctors and frontline health personnel a cognizable, non-bailable offence with a punishment of imprisonment up to 7 years.

However, the latter overturns and makes the offence under Section 9, ‘bailable’ apart from also being cognizable. This allows the accused persons to have an entitlement to bail for an offence as serious as physically assaulting a doctor who only intends to save lives.

The plea highlights how the Ordinance brought out by the State of Karnataka inefficaciously divests the health workers of their confidence about their work and the safety issues surrounding their work environment.

It stresses upon the important role played by the Health Officers of BBMP, ASHA workers in the combat against the global pandemic. Not only that but also, the punishment for obstruction of a public servant is a comparatively inadequate 3 year time period with the imposition of fine only up to Rs. 50,000. On the other hand, the Central Government Ordinance proposes at least 7 years behind bars with a fine of up to 7 lakh Rupees.

Apart from the punishment specified, the offender, the petition demands, shall also be liable to pay a penalty twice the value of the public or the private property damaged, as determined by the Deputy Commissioner after an appropriate enquiry. In a case where the offender fails to pay the said penal amount, the same must be recovered under the provisions of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1964 (Karnataka Act 12 of 1964) as it were arrears of land revenue.

The petition seeks for the Ordinance promulgated by the State of Karnataka to be struck down for it makes way for bail and a lesser quantum of punishment against the assaulters of health personnel. The petition requisitions the Central Government Ordinance to alone be in force in the entire length and breadth of the State of Karnataka, once it receives the presidential assent.


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