Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 

  • IASbaba
  • March 23, 2020
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Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 

Part of: GS-Prelims and Mains GS-II- Governance; GS-I- Modern History 

About the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897  

  • This law enables states to ban public gatherings, ask schools and large institutions to stop functioning, and issue advisories to companies to explore work-from-home models.  
  • It also gives the state a right to penalise media organisations spreading misinformation. 


  • It was introduced by British government to tackle the epidemic of bubonic plague that had spread in the erstwhile Bombay Presidency in the 1890s.

Key features of the Act:

  1. It empowers state governments/UTs to take special measures and formulate regulations for containing the outbreak, like inspection of persons travelling by railways, segregation in hospitals etc. 
  2. It empowers state to prescribe such temporary regulations to be observed by the public 
  3. It provides penalties for disobeying any regulation or order made under the Act. 
  4. It gives legal protection to the implementing officers acting under the Act.

Do you know?

  • In 1897, the year the law was enforced, freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak was punished with 18 months’ rigorous imprisonment after his newspapers Kesari and Mahratta admonished imperial authorities for their handling of the plague epidemic.
  •  Health is a State subject.

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