KATHMANDU, Sept 4: In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court on Friday directed the government to evaluate prevailing legislations relating to epidemic disease and enact a new Pandemic Act.
A division bench of Justices Sapana Pradhan Malla and Prakash Kumar Dhungana directed the government to conduct a study to evaluate the sufficiency of the Infectious Disease Act, 1976. The SC directed the government to see if the Act is enough to address issues like the coronavirus pandemic and do the needful to enact new law accordingly.
Justices Sapana Pradhan Malla (Left) and Prakash Kumar Dhungana
The bench directed the government authorities—the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, the Ministry of Health and Population, the Ministry of Law and Justice, the National Information Commission-- to hold a rigorous study of the prevailing Act and to decide whether to enact new comprehensive Act in order to address the difficulties faced by women and other high risk groups.
The full text of the judgment was made public in response to a writ petition filed by advocates Roshani Paudel and Saroj Krishna Ghimire.
In the text of the judgment, the apex court also underlined that the prevailing laws on pandemic have failed to address the problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic. "Since the efforts carried out by the government are found to have been insufficient, therefore the government needs to evaluate and enact suitable Act by studying the effectiveness of the prevailing laws," reads the judgement.
Stating that the legislative function of enacting law rests with the parliament, the bench also said that the apex court has been stressing the need for such laws, and has directed the government to enact laws many times in the past.
The bench also underlined that the limitation provisions in relation to domestic violence are insufficient in the prevailing laws during the time of pandemic, and so the court has directed the government to address such problems while reviewing the Act.
The bench also said that the problems faced by the public and the country during the pandemic should be analyzed and addressed accordingly.