The Uttar Pradesh Cabinet on Wednesday passed an ordinance prescribing a maximum punishment of life term to anyone who intentionally infects another person with the coronavirus, thereby leading to their death, The Indian Express reported.
The Uttar Pradesh Public Health and Epidemic Disease Control Ordinance, 2020, which aims to protect workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic, will now be sent to the governor for approval.
Section 24 of the ordinance, which deals with punishment for intentional affliction, says that offenders will be punished with rigorous imprisonment for two to five years. Section 25 of the ordinance defines “mass affliction” as infecting five or more persons, and Section 26 reads that “whoever causes death by affliction under Sections 24 and 25, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven years but may extend to imprisonment for life”. The person will also be fined between Rs 3 lakh and Rs 5 lakh.
“The meaning of intentionally here is the same as defined in legal terms,” Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary RK Tiwari told The Indian Express.
This ordinance also allows strict action for attacks and misbehaviour against health workers, policemen and sanitation workers, PTI reported. Uttar Pradesh has so far recorded 2,998 cases and 60 deaths, according to figures from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
For assault or misbehaviour with doctors, paramedics, police personnel, sanitation workers and others deployed by the government, the ordinance has a provision for punishment from six months to seven years. The person will also be levied a fine ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 5 lakh.
Patients who intentionally travel on public transport can face imprisonment from one to three years, and a fine ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 2 lakh. Those violating quarantine rules and escaping from a hospital can be jailed for one to three years and will also have to pay a fine ranging from Rs 10,000 to Rs 1 lakh.
Last month, the Centre had said attacks on healthcare professionals deployed to fight the coronavirus will be a non-bailable offence and will carry an imprisonment from six months to seven years in severe cases where there are grievous injuries. The Union Cabinet approved amendments to the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, to ensure that any attack on doctors or health workers will be liable to a penalty of anywhere between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 5 lakh. Punishment for others attacks will be three months to 5 years and a fine of Rs 50,000 to Rs 2 lakh.
Attacks against healthcare workers and those in the frontline in the fight against the coronavirus have increased in the past few months amid the coronavirus lockdown.
So far India has recorded 52,952 cases and 1,783 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.