The Coronavirus outbreak has led to the revival of an antique law, including a 19th century colonial statute that gives authorities extraordinary powers to do just about anything to anybody to combat a contagious disease while offering no legal remedy.

According to The Economic Times, the authorities invoked Epidemic Diseases Act in Maharashtra, to shut down corporate offices and impose a fine of Rs 1,000 for spitting in public in major cities of the state. Even industrial processes that require continuous operations would have to be scaled back with 50% staffing. The law was initially introduced in 1957 during British rule to combat Bubonic Plague, which was described by historians as the most draconian colonial legislation. It gives full protection to authorities for any action taken, with a provision that says, “No suit or other legal proceeding shall lie against any person for anything done or in good faith intended to be done under this Act”.

The government officials referred to these laws as an important necessity for smooth implementation of measures in the battle against a viral disease. Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray comapred the current situation with ‘World War, as the people have been infected uncontrollably.