Effect of COVID-19 on economy

Reading time: 6-8 minutes.

History has witnessed several pandemics over the centuries, but few as widespread and as disruptive as the ongoing 2019-20 coronavirus outbreak. The virus was first identified in Wuhan in Hubei district of China in late December 2019 and has since found its way to nearly 196 countries and territories across the globe. It causes the ‘Coronavirus Disease 2019’ or ‘COVID-19’ which is characterised by acute respiratory infection, particularly fatal for infants, people of advanced years and those with underlying medical conditions.

 Although it is primarily a situation of grave health crisis, the outbreak has caused in its wake major socio- economic disruptions, with far- reaching consequences. According to a United Nations prediction report, the world economy emerging out of the crisis will see 25 million people out of work and dramatically slashed rates of wages for workers. It warned that the world should prepare for a “significant rise in unemployment and underemployment in the wake of the virus”. As these rather worrisome facts and figures keep emerging, let us explore the factors that shed some light on how a common virus has managed to bring large economies to their knees within such a short span of time.

Pandemic status of COVID-19

The coronavirus has a very high rate of transmission as is evident from the fact that as on 25th March 2020, mere 3 months from the first reported case, there have been around 4, 71,300 known cases of infection worldwide and 21,300 deaths. China, which is the epicentre of the disease, and the European countries of Italy and Spain along with the USA have been the worst hit, cumulatively accounting for around 55% of total number of current cases worldwide.  It was declared as a ‘pandemic’ on 11th March, 2020 by the World Health Organization. A pandemic is defined as “an epidemic occurring worldwide, or over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries and usually affecting a large number of people” A number of countries have imposed a state of total lockdown, including travel restrictions, amid efforts to quarantine citizens in order to prevent community transmission. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a complete lockdown of the country commencing on 25th March for a period of 21 days, threatening penal consequences for violators. With people forced inside their homes and business activities suspended, a shutdown of the global economy is looming large.

How is it affecting the economy?

Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari says ‘this storm will pass… but the choices we make now could change our lives for years to come

As nationwide lockdowns and state- imposed curfews continue- major exports are suspended, shopping malls are left deserted and the lights in theatres and cinema halls have gone dark- it comes as no surprise that unemployment is headed for a historic high. Closure of these establishments have, in turn, hit those businesses, big and small, that were engaged in supplying utilities and services to them- developing a vicious cycle of economic inactivity.

The Chinese economy, owing to its prolonged fight against the viral outbreak, has gone down by about 10% in the first quarter. Estimates of the margins by which US and the European economies are likely to go down are of similar magnitudes, i.e. perilous double- digit drops in GDP, that too assuming that the virus would be contained by the end of second quarter and measures would be relaxed.

As far the Indian economic scenario is concerned, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked top verticals within the government, including the Niti Aayog, the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister and Finance Ministry to assess the economic impact of the novel coronavirus. The economy is forecast to grow 5% in current fiscal year, the slowest in 11 years. The Economic Survey had forecast 6-6.5% rise in financial year 20-21, but Covid-19 has hurt recovery prospects. Ill- effects of the pandemic have not spared the Forex and Bond markets either.

The first brunt of the blow would be borne by the tourism, transport and hospitality sectors- leading to a gradual stagnation of the supporting industries. Consumption slowdown is obviously followed by drop in production, which is further aided by the fact that the outbreak has caused workers to flee to villages culminating in unavailability of labour.

Entrepreneurs operating small and medium sized enterprises find themselves in particularly deep waters as poor cash- flow and negligible revenues over prolonged periods are slowly pushing them towards a point beyond recovery and possible permanent closure.

 As the health pandemic is slowly unfolding into an economic pandemic, the world is waiting for the governments to respond, as their support is extremely crucial to ensure that this temporary economic shock does not turn into a permanent one. According to former RBI Governor Dr. Raghuram Rajan, the situation must be dealt with in short- term, achievable steps as it is hardly an appropriate time to roll out big, ambitious projects. Available fiscal resources must be channeled into healthcare first- in securing supply of protective gear and hygiene products, expanding available facilities and building quarantine spaces.

The next step would be identification and allocation of resources for providing monetary benefit to the vulnerable sections of the society- such as the impoverished and the immigrants- who are struggling to keep body and soul together during these trying times. Equally important is to ensure the survival of small and viable businesses, which are fast losing their stronghold in the economy, by providing monetary incentives and subsidized loans to create a bridge between now till they manage to overcome the crisis and secure economic momentum. 

Steps being taken by government & critical analysis

The first step towards mitigating any mishap on part of the government is resorting to clear communication and educating the people about the gravity of the situation. The Indian government must put across very clearly to every citizen that this is a period of national emergency and that pro- active role sought from all of them. Comprehensive data must be released to guide actions, as one cannot hope to win a blind fight.

 In terms of policy decisions, the Prime Minister announced on 24th March, 2020 that Rs. 15,000 Crore has been pumped into the healthcare sector for provision of testing kits, protective gears for doctors, nurses and paramedics and also for expanding the available facilities and increasing accommodative capacity. Although the amount allocated seems substantial, it must be weighed against the fact that there is considerable uncertainty over the duration of the pandemic- currently available estimates of adverse effects of the outbreak might have to undergo sizeable revisions. 

India is yet to announce any substantial and far- reaching policy decision to combat the approaching economic slowdown. In this respect, it can take cue from other leading economies that are rolling out counter- measures. For instance, in the US, Federal Reserves has cut its interest rates to near zero to help consumers and businesses to access cheaper loans. Taking into account an upcoming inevitable rise in NPA’s and possible delinquencies, there is a large demand that the RBI slash its rates before announcing next fiscal policies to manage the country’s plummeting risk and investment capacities. It can also offer partial guarantees to commercial banks, so that they remain incentivized to lend to businesses, particularly the smaller ones.

However, every policy must be implemented only after taking into careful consideration all possible consequences, since one must not forget that the country is currently dealing with a financial system that is severely impaired and efforts must be directed towards rebuilding it and avoiding any path that may lead to further collapse.


The coronavirus outbreak is perhaps the biggest crisis that our generation has had to face. Although the situation demands quick and decisive actions on part of authorities as well citizens, one must not forget to weigh the long- term consequences of these actions. The goal today is not merely to overcome the immediate threats to our health, but also lay to the foundation for a safer world, to emerge on the other side stronger than ever.

Every cloud has a silver lining, and in this situation it can be found in the fact that the entire world has been presented with a profound purpose to unite, and exhibit the kind of compassion which was thought to been buried beneath the frenzy of modern, selfish way of life. One can only hope that humanity is able to derive valuable lessons from this ordeal and that each of us hold life and freedom in the highest regard hereon.

Author: Adrita Biswas from ILS Law College, Pune.

Editor: Ismat Hena from Faculty of Law, Jamia Millia Islamia.


Explained: The Limitation Act, 1963

Reading time: 6-8 minutes.

The Supreme Court Monday invoked its plenary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to extend the limitation period of appeals from high courts or tribunals on account of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As a result, difficulties may be faced by litigants across the country in filing their petitions/ applications/ suits/ appeals/ all other proceedings within the period of limitation prescribed under the general law of limitation or Special Laws (both Central and/or State), it said.

The top court said that to obviate such difficulties, “it is hereby ordered that a period of limitation in all such proceedings, irrespective of the limitation prescribed under the general law.

Salient features of The Limitation Act, 1963

The Limitation Act contains thirty-two Sections and 137 Articles. The articles are isolated into 10 sections. The initial phase is distinguishing with accounts, the second half is distinguishing with gets, the third half is distinguishing with the statement, the simple fraction is distinguishing with announcements and instrument, the fifth is distinguishing with enduring property, the sixth half is identifying with versatile property, the seventh half is distinguishing with torts, the eighth half is identifying with trusts and trust property, the ninth half is distinguishing with incidental problems and the last half is distinguishing with suits that there’s no supported amount.

There is no uniform of constraint for the suits underneath that the groupings have endeavored. The impediment time-frame is belittled from time of sixty years to thirty years on account of a suit by the mortgager for the reclamation or recovery of possession of the ardent property oversubscribed, or if there ought to be an occasion of home loans for the dispossession or suits by or for the sake of Central Government or any regime together with the State of Jammu and Jammu and Kashmir. While a lot of extended time of twelve years has been counseled for varied varieties of suits identifying with relentless property, trusts, and gifts, a time of three-four years has been supported for the suits distinguishing with records, contracts, and assertions, suits distinguishing with pronouncements and instruments and besides suits distinguishing with the versatile property. An amount shifting from one to three years has been supported for suits distinguishing with torts and various problems and for suits that no time of impediment has been given away in the Schedule to the Act.

The Limitation Act, 1963 with its new law connotes that it does not create any racial or category qualification since each Hindu and Muslim Law area unit presently accessible underneath the law of constraint in keeping with this written record. within the matter of Syndicate Bank v. Prabha D. Naik, (AIR 2001 SC 1968) the Supreme Court has watched that the law of confinement underneath the Limitation Act, 1963 makes any racial or category qualification whereas creating or reveling any law to a particular individual.

Its objectives and purposes

The Law of limitation prescribes a period among that a right is often implemented during a Court of Law. The period for varied suits has been provided within the schedule of the Act. the most purpose of this Act is to stop proceedings from being dragged for an extended time and fast disposal of cases that end up in effective proceedings. As per the Jammu and geographic region shakeup Act, 2019, provisions of the Limitation Act can currently apply to the entire of Asian nation. The Limitation Act, 1963 contains provisions about the computation of your time for the amount of limitation, forgiveness of delay, etc. The Limitation Act contains thirty-two sections and 137 articles and also the articles are divided into ten components.

Important provisions

Retrospective operations

In BK Education Services Private Limited v. Parag Gupta and Associates the Supreme Court processed that since the law of limitation is procedural, it’ll be applied retrospectively. The Supreme Court in Thirumalai Chemicals Ltd v. Union of India determined that statutes of limitation area unit retrospective thus far as they apply to all or any legal proceedings brought when their operations for implementing causes of action accumulated earlier.

Limitation bars remedy

It means the statute of limitations prescribes solely the amount inside that legal proceedings need to be initiated. It doesn’t limit any amount for fitting a defense to such actions. Hence, the initial right to suit isn’t barred. However, Section twenty-seven is an Associate in Nursing exception to the current rule.

The Supreme Court in Punjab national bank and Ors v. Surendra Prasad Sinha control that the principles of limitation don’t seem to be meant to destroy the rights of the parties. Section three solely bars the remedy however doesn’t destroy the correct that the remedy relates to.

The starting point of limitation

The time from that amount of limitation begins to run depends upon the topic matter of the case and a particular start line of such amount is provided extensively by the Schedule within the Act. It usually starts from the date once the summons or notice is served, or the date on that the decree or judgment is passed, or the date on that the event that forms the idea of the suit takes place. The Supreme Court in Trustee’s Port city v. The Premier Automobile command that the start line of limitation is that the accruement of the reason behind action.

Expiry period of limitation

Section four of the Limitation Act provides that once the amount of limitation is prescribed for any suit, charm or application and such amount expires on every day once the Court is closed, such suit, charm or application shall be instituted, most well-liked or created on the day on that the Court reopens.

Condonation of delay

Section 5 of the act talks about the extension of the prescribed period in certain cases. The explanation states that in ascertaining or computing the amount prescribed once the individual or appellant has been misled by any order, follow or judgment of the judicature. it’ll be a sufficient cause inside the which means of this section.

Sufficient cause

Sufficient cause means there ought to be adequate reasons or affordable grounds for the court to believe that the soul was prevented from being continuing with the appliance in a very Court of Law.

In Balwant Singh (Dead) v. Jagdish Singh & Ors, the Supreme Court control that it’s obligatory upon the soul to point out sufficient cause thanks to that he was prevented from continued to prosecute the continuing within the suit. during this case, there was a delay of 778 days in filing the appliance for conveyance of the legal representatives on record.


The law of limitation prescribes the time at intervals that an individual will enforce his right. This Act keeps a check on the cases so they’re not dragged for over a protracted time. This Act conjointly acknowledges the very fact that there are things once persons instituting a suit or preferring associate charm for a real cause are unable to institute a suit within the time prescribed within the Act and therefore the same criteria can’t be applied to each state of affairs.

Author: Mukti Mistry from Navrachana University.

Editor: Tamanna Gupta from RGNUL, Patiala.

Stages of COVID-19 transmission

Reading time: 6-8 minutes.

Introduction: India is still in the second transmission stage (news)

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a contagious disease caused by SARS-CoV-2. It originated in Wuhan, China but resulted in a global pandemic affecting 186 countries around the world and taking lives of more than sixteen thousand people. On January 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Coronavirus outbreak a ‘Global Public Health Emergency’.

However, in India, the situation has remained mild as only five hundred cases have been found including ten death cases.

Balram Bhargava, the Director-General of Indian Council of Medical Research stated that there have been certain signs of community transmission in some parts of the country but India has managed to stay at Stage 2 i.e. local transmission. He further stated that if the country manages to keep a similar number of cases, the country can avoid Stage 3 i.e. community transmission which is, as a matter of fact, difficult to control and can severely affect large areas.

What are the stages of its transmission?

Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has stated that there are four stages of transmission of the Novel Coronavirus disease:

Stage 1 – Imported Cases

Imported Cases include those who have travelled to countries that are already affected by the virus and have come back to India.

Stage 2 – Local Transmission

Local Transmission includes those cases that are indirectly affected as they came in contact with those individuals who had a travel history to the virus-prone areas.

Stage 3 – Community Transmission

Community transmission is when a patient is not exposed to any infected person or one who has travelled to any of the affected countries yet he/she tests positive thereby affecting large areas as in cases of countries like Italy and Bangkok. In this stage, it gets difficult or even impossible to trace the source of virus.

Stage 4 – Epidemic

This is the last and in fact, the most dreadful stage as the disease takes the shape of an epidemic with no clear endpoint. China is an ideal example of this situation.

Steps being taken by India to prevent its spread

In view of the rising cases of COVID-19 in different parts of the country, the government administered certain effective measures in order to control the situation which are as follows:

1.    The government banned the arrival of international passengers from countries that are members of the European Union, the European Free Trade Association, Turkey and the United Kingdom i.e. the whole of the European continent but excluded the Indian passport holders and nearly five hundred international flights from and to India were cancelled.

2.    All the international passengers who arrived in India were screened and passengers coming from highly affected countries like China, Italy, Iran, etc. were compulsorily quarantined for fourteen days.

3.    Ministry of Health ensured that N-95 masks were made available to the public at large and also directed the Ministry of Consumer Affairs to take adequate actions against sellers charging unreasonable prices for masks and sanitizers. 

4.    121 laboratories are made functional to test COVID-19. Furthermore, rapid testing laboratories were being made effective to test up to fourteen hundred samples a day.

5.    All the state governments released a notification for shutting down schools and colleges as well as all the public areas including gyms, movie theatres, and malls till at least March 31, 2020. Moreover, CBSE and ICSE also postponed board exams for grades tenth and twelfth.

6.    Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) postponed the Indian Premier League 2020 and the Ram Navmi Mela which witnesses a crowd of nearly 15 lakh people has also been postponed by Ayodhya administration.

7.    In order to promote social distancing, the government issued a detailed advisory of certain measures and notified the public about the same.

8.    The government even directed the government employees to work from home and a similar approach has also been taken by the private companies to avoid the infection.

9.    Lastly, a Janta Curfew was observed by the whole country on March 22, 2020, to promote social distancing.

Provisions for COVID-19 in Indian Legislation

In order to avoid the spread of the virus, the government invoked various provisions of law.

Firstly, Section 2 of Epidemic Diseases Act 1897, a 123-year-old law (which stills holds good) was implemented which empowers the state governments to take special measures at times of epidemic after notifying the citizens.

Secondly, Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) was implemented in various parts of the country to ensure social distancing and avoid large public gatherings.

Lastly, necessities such as masks and sanitizers were declared as essential commodities under the Essential Commodities Act 1955 till June 30, 2020, to ensure its availability and price regulation.

Critical analysis

Despite being the world’s second most populated country in the world, only a small number of cases have been detected in the country and India still remains at stage two of the global pandemic. As mentioned earlier, only five hundred active cases have been detected. There are high chances for India to reach stage three i.e. community transmission because of its high population density as well as a reluctance to testing.

However, it cannot be ignored that nearly 12000 tests have only been conducted so far. It is found that India is conducting only ninety tests a day even though it has the capacity of conducting eight thousand tests a day. The major reason for this limited testing is huge costs which the government has to incur which is nearly Rs. 5000 per patient. Moreover, a large number of tests will overburden hospitals.


COVID-19, being a contagious disease took a shape of an epidemic and affected almost the whole world. However, it has only had a small effect in India where the deaths still remain really low and India still witnesses only local transmission with certain signs of community transmission. Nevertheless, the proportion of tests being conducted remains low as compared to other countries which might be a reason for less number of active cases.

It is also significant that the Indian Government took various measures to encourage social distancing and curb the epidemic. It brought about various legislations for the same.

To conclude, India’s performance has been incredible provided that number of tests performed as sufficient which is probably not the case. Thus, India needs to conduct more tests to ensure that the disease is actually controlled and it remains at a safer side.

Author: Arya Mittal, from Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur.

Editor: Tamanna Gupta from RGNUL, Patiala.

COVID-19 and international relations

Reading time: 6-8 minutes.

One must take note of the remarkable date of 22nd March, 2020 when each individual in India was expected to show up in support of all those professionals who have been constantly striving towards battling the deadly Corona virus that has caused thousands of deaths across the globe. As known to all, this virus originated in Wuhan, China during the month of December, 2019.

In order to understand the reasons behind increasing mortality due to this virus, one must attempt to acquire sufficient understanding of the anatomy of Corona virus. As per a report by the World Health Organization, these viruses belong to the Coronaviridae family and they attack both humans and animals. It is important to know that the recent corona virus found in humans in Wuhan was not previously recognized and is posing threats to human race including syndromes like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.

The virus that primarily originated in China recognizes bats as a dominant carrier but the WHO experts assert that there are a couple of other animals that act as medium of transfer of virus from animal species to humans. In order to ascertain other sources of this virus, environmental sampling was conducted from the Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market and other surrounding markets in China. It is important to note that this virus does not exist in air but rests on a surface.

In order to avoid the transmission of this virus, it is important that people refrain from establishing any physical contact with each other. As per a report by the WHO, two of the drastically affected cities of China are Wuhan, Guangdong and Sichuan. The researches and statistics presented by the WHO are predominantly accelerated through reports by these provinces in China. One must know that this virus did not develop within other countries but spread merely due to people coming in contact with the infected from across the globe.

Viewing this pandemic crisis with an international perspective, it can be said that the need of the hour is a strong collaboration between nations irrespective of the former disparities because one must understand that eventually its human fighting for human.

Its spread throughout the globe

Before one dwells into the intricacies of the virus and its consequences at a global scale, it is important to understand the accurate meaning of what exactly is a Pandemic disease and in which circumstances is a disease considered Pandemic. As per the definition provided by the World Health Organization, an influenza pandemic is said to have occurred when a new influenza virus emerges and spreads across the globe and the major problem surrounding this is the fact that people have less immunity against this Pandemic disease. COVID 19 is now a Pandemic disease owing to the fact that it has affected thousands of people across the globe.

One must have good knowledge about the routes of transmission of Corona virus so as to ascertain preventive measures pertaining to the same. The World Health Organization reports assert that COVID 19 is transmitted through droplets and fomites due to the unprotected physical contact between the infected individual and the rest of the world. A common notion surrounding influenza virus is that these are predominantly air borne but COVID 19 is found not to be air borne but merely through physical contact.

The transmission of virus amongst nations occurred at an extremely fast pace. In countries like India, most of the patients who were found infected with this virus, had international travel history and did not develop this within the country. In absence of any certain cure of COVID 19, the only way of minimizing the disastrous effect of this disease is all sorts of attempts to prevent this. Social Distancing is the only way that can prevent spreading of this virus among the masses. As per the WHO report, almost all the regions across the globe have reported confirmed corona cases. These regions primarily include Western Pacific, South East Asia, Region of Americas, European region and Eastern Mediterranean region.

Its effect on international relations

The outbreak of this deadly disease not only killed people in large numbers but also adversely affected the global economies and international relations amongst the nations. For instance, India witnessed a 45 minute closure in the SENSEX which had adverse impacts on the economy as a whole. The Chinese economy is bound to witness a slowdown due to it being the epicenter of the virus but one must pay attention to the impact on the existing trade tensions between US and China.

As per the phase one agreement between the two countries, China promised to bring about an increase in the imports of goods and services manufactured and provided by US respectively but due to this pandemic crisis, there is a high probability that China might not adhere to its promise owing to the economic slowdown it is currently witnessing. The financial markets across nations have rattled. This is clearly evident from the crashing GDP of nations across the globe and the heightened issues of sustaining market forces within almost every nation.

It should also be noted that amid all the tensions, nations presently stand united in the battle against corona virus. As per a newspaper report, the Russian army was sent as a part of medical help to Italy. It must be known that Italy has been facing extremely harsh conditions in terms of spread of the deadly corona virus. In less than three months, the virus has resulted in most of hospitals being occupied by hundreds of sufferers.

Approximately, fifteen thousand have been infected as of 13th of March, 2020. This noble initiative by Russia is actually helping Italy fight the health crisis that it is going through. It is pertinent to note that leaders from across the nations have been appealing masses to follow and encourage social distancing in pursuit of preventing more cases of COVID 19 that could arise in future. Looking at the collaboration amongst nations, it can be contended that this health crisis has had varying impacts on the relations amongst nations in monetary as well as non- monetary terms.

Critical analysis and probable way forward

Analyzing the current situation in India and across nations, it is important to note that only the citizens themselves are capable of controlling the spread of this virus through maintaining considerable distance amongst them. They must avoid visiting any public place and should practice self- isolation in order to prevent any further spread of this virus. Leaders of nations across the globe have been trying to convince masses into practicing social distancing through several platforms of communication like social media, press, radio and television. As a researcher, it is important to analyze that if the spread of COVID 19 is not contained during these months, it might heighten up to the third stage which if at all happens, will be difficult to deal with.

The only way forward is to strictly adhere to the government released instructions until the countries are able to contain the virus. This shall not only help the masses residing within a particular country but also will stop the uncontrolled transmission of Corona to other countries because people tend to visit different countries following work, vacation, etc. Restricting movement from one country to another shall also solve the issue of quick transmission of virus and so as if at all the initiative of self- isolation does not work in favor of the citizens, then the government may adopt the strategy involving restriction of movement not within the country but between two or more countries.


The Pandemic crisis of COVID 19 is not resolved but is still progressing in terms of number of deaths across the globe. So, asserting any statement of conclusion will not be appropriate because the issue has not yet witnessed a downfall. It is pertinent to note that the Pandemic crisis has led to change in economic and trade relations that the neighboring countries share, yet it is interesting to know that all these countries stand in unity against the virus and are striving hard to control the situation. Apart from this, it is important to understand that this virus primarily spreads through social contact as it requires a surface to settle down unlike other influenza viruses that are air borne.

Awareness regarding the anatomy and spread of virus amongst the masses is important so that they are not carried away by fake information. Detailed understanding of the scientific origin of Corona virus is important to judge the veracity of information being shared majorly across the social media platforms. It should be understood that the masses tend to believe a piece of information when they are in a state of panic. The same has been happening across the globe, due to the Pandemic crisis which eventually results in unnecessary panic where the time could have been productively used in discovering and following innovative preventive measures in a pursuit of combating the spread of COVID 19.

Author: Meghna Bhatt from NMIMS School of Law, Mumbai.

Editor: Ismat Hena from Faculty of Law, Jamia Millia Islamia.

Explained: Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897

Reading time: 6-8 minutes.

The deadly COVID-19 has claimed over 19, 647 lives across the world and its affect is increasing day by day. This has led to wide-spreading panic. The extent is so great that the World Health Organisation has declared COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic. This has forced the Indian Government to invoke its 123 years old, British Era law to combat the outbreak of COVID-19.

The Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 was specifically passed to contain the spread of diseases such as swine flu, cholera and dengue. On 11th March a meeting was held under the chairpersonship of Health Minister Harshvardhan, where it was decided that all states should invoke the provisions of Section 2 of Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897.

Why was the act introduced?

The Bombay bubonic plague outbreak was one of the worst crises faced by our country during 1896-97. The outbreak of the plague resulted in a social and political crisis. It threatened the trade, damaged the productivity of goods and trade relations with other countries. To bring the situation under control, British Government hastily passed the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897. The main objective of this act was to curb the outbreak of the bubonic plague.

Its scope and objectives

The main objective of this act is to tackle spread of deadly communicable diseases. It empowers the Central Government to take special measures and impose regulations to curb the spread of epidemic.

The act has been implemented few times in our country. In 2015, the act was implemented to deal with the spread of malaria and dengue. In 2009, to combat the spread of swine flu spread in Pune. Section 2 powers were used by the government, and swine flu was declared an emergency disease.

Salient Features of the Act

Power to the Central and State Government – The Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 provides government a wide ambit of power and discretion. Under Section 2 of the act the State Government can impose temporary restriction in order to avoid the spread of the disease. This section will be invoked when ordinary provisions of the law are insufficient to curb the spread of the disease. By a public notice, the government can notify that the restrictions should be observed by the public. Furthermore, the State Government can also inspect persons travelling to the state if they are suffering from the disease and provide them with temporary accommodation.

Section 2(a) empowers the Central Government to take preventive measures such as inspection of any ship or vessel leaving or arriving at any port, to stop the outbreak of the disease.

Punishability – Under the Section 3 of the act, when a person disobeys the regulations imposed by the government under this act, he is punishable under section 188 of Indian Penal Code. Section 188 of Indian Penal Code states that an order promulgated by a public servant lawfully empowered to do so, and disobedience to such orders causes obstruction, annoyance or injury to any person will be punished with imprisonment which may extend six months and fine of one thousand rupees.

No Legal Proceeding – Section 4 of this act clearly states that no suit or legal proceeding shall lie against any person under this act.

Progress made under the Act

The National Health Bill, 2009 was an attempt to ensure a robust legal framework on public health and a requisite system to deal with public health emergencies with the cooperation of Central and State Government. Chapter II of National Health Bill draft, 2009 lays down the obligations of the government shall take necessary legal steps which includes enactment of law to prevent the outbreak of communicable diseases and in case public health emergencies. The enactment should be in accordance and compliance with the rights enumerated under the Epidemic Diseases Act. It also aims to establish a National Public Health Board which focuses on adopting a national health programme for every five years. Gujarat and Karnataka have made efforts in drafting the National Health Bill. Madras Health Act, 1939 and Travancore Cochin Public Health Act are some examples of efforts made by states to achieve public health.

For tackling the recent Covid-19 pandemic, the Central and State governments are taking preventative measures to stop the rapid spread of the virus. On 11th March, 2020, the Cabinet Secretary of India allowed all States and Territories to implement the Epidemic Diseases Act. Since then, States have taken steps such as ordering closing of restaurants, clubs and bars, and even imposing S. 144 in some States, such as Maharashtra and Rajasthan. 

Critical analysis

Scope for Misuse – Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 is a British era law which can be used for abuse of powers. It would not be harsh to say that it is a century old pointless law which needs a major overhaul.

Ambiguity – There is not a single word in the act which will invoke the functioning if this act. No specific grounds are mentioned that how this act will come in force. It is also needs a regulation in the territorial boundaries which the act covers. One of the most alarming questions raised by this act is that there no precise mention regarding to the human and legal rights during the epidemic. This gives unlimited powers in the hands of the government to shut down public gatherings. It does not describe any duties of the government during the period of epidemic.

Skewed Distribution of Power – Epidemic Diseases Act only specifies the powers of the government and keeps blind eyes on the rights of the citizens. Indeed this act is so brazen, that it does not even address the concern of individual autonomy, liberty and privacy. An act should work for the good of the citizens, considering their needs and their social circumstances. This act poses a great threat to citizens during the epidemic, as it creates a state on a lockdown which will lead to panic and resentment amongst the people. Basically, this act undermines the faith of people in legislation. The 113-year-old law has not been amended even after a century. The act is spineless which is purely regulatory in nature and lacks the notion of public health.


There is an acute need to strengthen the legal framework to prevent and control the spread of communicable and other diseases in India. The Epidemic Diseases Act is flawed and it needs a major overhaul or a significant amendment as it presently cannot cope with the changing identity of the public health. It merely addresses the concerns of public health, which exploits the State-assured citizen rights.

There is need of a clear and accurate piece of legislation which deals with the outbreak of communicable disease. A legal framework for providing essential health services and tackling health emergencies should be introduced. We also need a comprehensive, integrated and accurate legal provision for the control of public health emergencies in India which is parallel to rights, people-focused and concerned with public health. 

Author: Ashish Kumar from Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur .

Editor: Anna Jose Kallivayalil from NLU, Delhi.


Reading time: 6-8 minutes.

The COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the recently discovered corona-virus, which was unknown before its recent outbreak in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic on 11th March 2020 as the coronavirus, which came into knowledge as recently as December, had rapidly claimed more than 121,000 people as its host from Asia to the Middle East, Europe, and the United States by then.

 The Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus asserted that the number of cases outside China had grown thirteen-folds and the number of affected countries had tripled in the last couple of weeks before the declaration. Tedros said that while many countries could succeed in suppressing the spread of the virus within their territories, some failed to act fast enough or effectively enough to contain the spread. A pandemic, according to the World Health Organization, is defined as the “worldwide spread” of a new disease.

Significance of this development:

An epidemic refers to the alarming rise in the spread of a disease within a specific community. By contrast, the WHO defines a pandemic as a global spread of a new disease; it refers to the spread of a disease, rather than the severity of the illness it causes. During prior press briefs, the Organization maintained that the COVID-19 had “pandemic potential”, called it a “public health emergency of international concern”, but stopped short of actually declaring it a pandemic.

 “Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death,” said Dr. Tedros on March 11.

However, he said that such a declaration did not change what was being done and what has to be done, either by the WHO or by the different countries. The rapidly multiplying number of cases in China were concerning but did not suggest a pandemic. But when the total number of cases beyond China increased, and spread to all continents, except Antarctica, it helped to inform the WHO’s pandemic declaration. Such declarations signal that continued spread is likely, and that countries should prepare for the possibility of widespread community transmission. It also updates travel policy and prompts countries to prepare and plan for the quarantines and possible disruptions to public events, if necessary. It can also allow a head-start for the development of therapeutics and vaccines.

Criteria for declaration of a pandemic by the WHO:

A pandemic declaration is fairly unusual and was last made during the 2009 H1N1 (swine flu) outbreak. If the situation is not too serious to be concerned about, such a declaration is deemed as a cause of unnecessary panic and precautions. The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, a corona-virus related to COVID-19, for example, infected about 8,000 people across 26 countries of the world in 2003 but did not reach the pandemic status.

The WHO officials appeared to be indicating that the declaration was fueled by the slow and inadequate responses by some countries as the virus continues to expand its reach. Tedros said that the organization has rung the alarm bell loud and clear and that it cannot repeat it enough times that the course of the pandemic could still be changed for good. Michael Ryan, WHO Director for Health emergencies said that “there is no mathematical formula, no algorithm for making a pandemic declaration.” He said the decision came only after serious internal and external consultation because the implication of the word is quite huge.         

Role of the WHO in international arena:

The World Health Organization (WHO) was founded in 1948 with an ambitious objective- ‘the attainment by all people of the highest possible level of health’. Its constitution defines 22 wide-ranging functions, of which the first was ‘to act as the directing and coordinating authority on international health work’.

The constitution of WHO is notable for the scope and breadth of the agenda it lays out for the organization. Health is described as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’ and the ‘enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and social measures’. In its first two decades WHO was probably best known for the application of technical and medical expertise to infectious disease control- such as its eradication programs for malaria and smallpox.

In the 1970s WHO began to reflect fundamental changes in the international economic and political environment, which culminated in demands for the organization to provide more technical assistance to developing countries. The promotion of primary health care as a means by which health care should be delivered to greater effect but as part of a more fundamental economic and social restructuring has been at the focus of the Organization. The WHO wanted to promulgate the idea that health depends on much more than the delivery of health services.

The 21st Century global health layout requires an action plan which could be made effective globally when globalization of trade, travel, information, human rights, ideas, and diseases is rising to new heights by the day. The new global health era is highly multi-faceted and requires higher coordination of effort, priorities, and investments. “The World Health Organization plays an essential role in the global governance of health and disease; due to its core global functions of establishing, monitoring and enforcing international norms and standards, and coordinating multiple actors towards common health goals,” writes Jennifer Ruger, Associate Professor at Yale University. Global health governance requires the World Health Organization to lead as the common spokesperson on behalf of the member nations and effective implementation of the organization’s core global functions to ensure better effectiveness of all health factors. 

Progress made under the guidance of the WHO:

In the past, strong leadership of the World Health Organization has helped shape several captious global health pathways including the awareness regarding the importance of health in trade debates, human rights context, partnerships, treaties, etc. Working with 194 member states across six regions, and from more than 150 offices, the WHO staff are united in a shared commitment to achieving better health for everyone, everywhere.

Over the past years, the WHO has gone through various permutations in prioritizing different aspects of different categories, and its effectiveness in doing so has been the subject of analysis and criticism. Prospects of health improvement are enhanced by the transfer of medical and public health knowledge and technology from one part of the globe to another and all countries benefit from international norms and standards and sustained global advocacy for health.

The WHO has successfully ruled out the primary challenge of globalization that relates to global inequalities and externalities in terms of health and health facilities. The organization has improved the distribution of health facilities and has succeeded in focusing the attention of the world on the importance of individual health in the rise of a nation.  

Critical analysis:

Dr. Tedros said that the situation is not just a public health crisis, it is a crisis that will touch every sector, therefore every individual must be involved in the fight. The Organization has been criticized for not making the appropriate declaration earlier, however, Mike Ryan, head of the agency’s health emergencies program, admitted in a press conference that the agency feared that countries may interpret a pandemic declaration as a sign that efforts to contain the virus have failed and they no longer need to try. He added that he was worried, not about the word but, about the world’s reaction to it- whether it will be used to call action, for a fight or an excuse to give up. On one hand, while the declaration has been made to awaken the countries who refused to act even after loud warnings, there is a belief annexed to such declarations that the battle has already been lost.     


The COVID-19 has infected 196,106 people and has claimed almost 7,869 lives worldwide, but the WHO is continuously repeating that even in absence of sufficient medicines and vaccines, quarantines and precautions could successfully help prevent the spread of the disease and also cure the victims before they succumb to the infection. The organization hopes that the declaration of the pandemic would improve the standard of actions taken to combat the disease and end the widespread trouble soon. 

Author: Padmaja Dubey from Faculty of Law, University of Allahabad.

Editor: Tamanna Gupta from RGNUL, Patiala