The Epidemic Diseases Act simplified

This is the plain English version of The Epidemic Diseases Act which was formulated in 1897 to deal with the outbreak of bubonic plague in Bombay. Since then the Act has been occasionally deployed to control outbreaks of various diseases.

The epidemic diseases act simplified

The Epidemic Diseases Act in plain English

The Epidemic Diseases Act came into force in the year 1897. It aims to provide for better prevention of spread of dangerous epidemic diseases.

The act empowers the state governments to take special measures and prescribe regulations with regards to dangerous epidemic diseases. In case of an outbreak, or threat of an outbreak, if the state government feels that the ordinary provisions of law in force are insufficient to initiate special measures then it can formulate temporary regulations to be observed by public at large, or any specific class of persons. The state government can initiate these measures itself or empower any person to take such measures on its behalf. All the measures and regulations are to be notified through public notice.

The state government may also determine the manner in which the expenses are to be borne and accounted for.

The state government can also, without prejudice, take measures and prescribe regulations for inspection of people travelling by train and other modes of transport and segregate suspected persons in hospitals or temporary accommodation etc. after inspection by designated inspecting officer.

When the central government is satisfied that India, or any of its part, is witnessing an outbreak of a dangerous epidemic disease, or is under threat of such an outbreak, then it can initiate measures and prescribe regulations to control or prevent the outbreak, provided that the laws in force are insufficient for those purposes. These measures and regulations include inspection of any ship or vessel leaving or arriving at any port within Indian Territory. The act also allows detention of any person intending to sail or arriving at any port, if necessary.

Any person disobeying any regulation or order made under this act will be considered to have committed an offence punishable under section 188 of Indian Penal Code (IPC).

(Section 188 of IPC deals with disobedience to an order issued by a public servant, lawfully empowered to issue such orders. An act of disobedience includes causing obstruction, annoyance or injury to any person lawfully employed to execute the order. Conviction would lead to simple imprisonment up to a month or a fine of rupees two thousand or both. But if the disobedience threatens human life, health or safety or causes riots, then it will attract imprisonment up to six months, or fine of rupees one thousand, or both. An accused will be considered to have committed an offence if he/she knowingly disobeys an order. For a conviction, it is not necessary that the accused should have an intention of causing harm or that his/her disobedience is likely to cause harm.)

The law also stands to protect all those persons who initiate actions under the provisions of this law. No suit or legal proceedings can be brought against such persons provided that they acted, or intended to act, in good faith.


The act has been rewritten in plain English so that a common reader can easily understand the provisions of the act. This text, or any part of it, cannot be quoted as reference in any legal or official communication. For litigation purposes, the bare act has to be quoted. The bare act is available at India code.

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