Karnataka High Court
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Protecting Health workers against attacks amid COVID-19: PIL in Karnataka HC says State Ordinance dilutes Central Government Ordinance

The plea states that the Karnataka Ordinance has diluted the very purpose of the Central Government ordinance by making the offences cognizable and bailable.

Rintu Mariam Biju

A plea has been filed before the Karnataka High Court challenging the Ordinance passed by the Karnataka Government namely 'The Karnataka Epidemic Diseases Ordinance, 2020', to protect health workers from physical attacks amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The challenge has been moved on the ground that the State Ordinance dilutes the stringent punishments imposed by way of the Central Government's Ordinance on the issue.

The petition notes that the Central Government 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.

While this is the case, the plea points out that the Karnataka Government also passed a similar Ordinance called The Karnataka Epidemic Diseases Ordinance, 2020 on April 22 (Karnataka ordinance). 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 of the State Ordinance cognizable and bailable.

In other words, the plea points out that by virtue of Karnataka's Ordinance, accused persons are entitled to be enlarged on bail for the serious offences being committed by them against doctors.

While pointing out that health workers are performing their duties amid the COVID-19 pandemic like warriors, the petitioner argues that the Karnataka Ordinance does not instill confidence in them.

Therefore, the petitioner urges that the Central Government Ordinance should prevail over the Karnataka Ordinance, and that the Central Government Ordinance be enforced in Karnataka.

The plea filed by Advocate GR Mohan is likely to be heard on April 28.

[Read Petition here]

WP PIL on Epidemic Diseases Ordinance 2020.pdf
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