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The Karnataka High Court recently issued notice in a plea challenging the the Karnataka Epidemic Diseases Ordinance, 2020, passed with a view to protecting health workers from physical attacks amid the COVID-19 crisis.
While passing the order, the Division Bench headed by Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka directed the petitioners to implead the Union of India as the third respondent in the matter.
The Bench further directed the Central and state governments to file their statements of objections by May 22.
The matter has been next posted for hearing on May 26.
Advocate GR Mohan had moved the petition on the ground that the state Ordinance dilutes the stringent punishments imposed by the Central Government's Ordinance.
The Centre recently passed an Ordinance making attacks against doctors, nurses and medical staff non-bailable offences, punishable with up to 7 years' imprisonment, through an amendment to the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897.
Subsequently, the Karnataka Epidemic Diseases Ordinance, 2020 was passed on April 22. Notably, Section 9 of this Ordinance states,
"Offence under this Ordinance to be cognizable and available: Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Central Act 2 of 1974) all offences under this Ordinance shall be cognizable and bailable."
It is the case of the petitioner that the Karnataka Ordinance has diluted the very purpose of the Central Government Ordinance by making offences under Section 9 cognizable and bailable.
Therefore, on these grounds, the petitioner urged the High Court that the Centre's Ordinance should prevail over the Karnataka Ordinance.
[Read order here]