NEW DELHI: Days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked the Union ministries to shortlist archaic laws, following which a committee suggested more than 250 such legislations, the Union health ministry has sent its list to repeal the 1898 Indian Lepers Act, that sought to shun people afflicted with the disease and 1897 Epidemic Diseases Act to the law ministry. The old laws are to be replaced with new laws.
Senior officials in the ministry say that while the Lepers Act requires a comprehensive revision, the process to replace the old Epidemics Disease Act with the new Public Health Act is going on.
The Lepers Act passed by the then British-India government in the 1898 was meant to control and deal with the people who were suffering from Leprosy. This was preceded by the Leper Act 1895.
Another archaic law, The Epidemic Diseases Act which came into force in 1897 was formed with an objective to facilitate prevention of the spread of dangerous diseases. It empowers the Central and state governments to take special measures and prescribe temporary regulations that are to be observed by the public to prevent the outbreak or spread of such diseases. It also enables states to determine whether any expenses incurred (including compensation if any) shall be defrayed.
However, with the new epidemics and diseases taking a toll, a new Public Health Act has been proposed to replace the old Epidemic Diseases Act.
“There are two parts-the old laws to be repealed should be in order that there is no legal gap. Both action of repealing and new Act are simultaneously done so that there is no vaccum. The health ministry has started woroking oin the new Public Health Act. The consultations are on. Both Cabinet secretary and the PMO have been informed about the enactment of the new law,” added the official.
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