LEGALITY OF LOCKDOWN DUE TO COVID-19

by Sakshi Arora

More than half of the world is locked down due to the recently introduced virus i.e. Coronavirus because it’s the only possible option to save the world from this probable biological destruction. The virus spreads through the asymptotic patients and stays in the body for approximately 15 days before showing the symptoms, which becomes even more dangerous for the human race as the virus spreads through the infected person who looks fine and healthy, this is known as Community spread. The virus grows exponentially infecting ore and more people than before as per the data recorded the initial one lakh people were infected in 67 days, another one lakh in 11 days and next in just 4 days. The community spread and the increasing death rate justifies the government initiative of lock down with strictness. If the self-isolation is not practised than the number of infected people will become vertical straight line.

The Indian government faced the issue long after the European and American countries and took all the possible preventive measures from the experience of the other nations. As the spread of coronavirus is affecting all the developing and developed countries in economic perspective. Eventually, all the nations are forced by the circumstances to invoke the provisions of lock down. India invoked the lock down at very initial stage, hoping the better outcome and safe and secured life of Indian citizens. 

In such lock down by the government, the police officials have the right to arrest a person under section 188 of the India Penal Code, 1860 which states the Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant and it explains that “It is not necessary that the offender should intend to produce harm, or contemplate his disobedience as likely to produce harm. It is sufficient that he knows of the order which he disobeys, and that his disobedience produces, or is likely to produce, harm.” And section 133 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Magistrate is empowered to order for removal of nuisance upon receiving any such report by the police officer. 

 As per the news records the police officials are arresting the persons who are violating the issued rules and guidelines under section 65 of the Delhi police Act,1978 to spread a message of strictness and seriousness among the citizens. The thousands of people are getting arrested due to the violation of the provisions. The lock down is different from the Unlawful assembly in Section 144 as the lock down comes up with the comparatively strict norms and regulations. There are few cases in India, where Police officials misused the power and got suspended due to excessive use of power. 

The public is supposed to follow the strict norms of the lock down otherwise can be punished with section 269 (Negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life), 270 (Malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and 271 (Disobedience to quarantine rule) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860

The Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 is invoked to protect the Nation from the Pandemic (as announced by the WHO) it empowers the government to make certain laws regarding the obligatory isolation of any person and compulsory Health check-up as directed by the government and medical practitioners. The government can take necessary measures to stop the spread of the disease, which may extend to travel ban, shutting down of shops, schools, universities and other private of government organisation.

The Delhi government on March 20 released Delhi Epidemic Diseases, COVID-19, Regulations, 2020 under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 to suspend the Schools, colleges and other public places of the territory. The Prime Minister announced the complete lock down of the Nation from Tuesday Midnight i.e. March 24 after the successful trial of “Janta Curfew” on March 22 by the PM.  The Government of India by Ministry of Health & Family Welfare through Directorate General of Health Service (EMR Division) issued Guidelines for home quarantine along with Emergency Medical Relief Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).

The ministry of Home Affairs has taken a step to pass an order to invoke the Disaster Management Act, 2005 to National Executive Committee, who is also the Union home secretary to enhance the preparedness and containment of COVID-19 from the effected date of January 01, 2020. The Public Health Bill, 2017 which is likely to replace the 1897 Act also aims to protect the Nation from situations like epidemics, disasters and Bio-terrestris etc. but the bill is under the law of ministry’s consideration and not introduced in the Parliament.

Summing up, the spread of the Coronavirus is dangerous to the human race and it may cause biological destruction at very high level and may slow down by following the quarantine period with adequate measures. The government took the appropriate measures as per the various legal provision to enact the nationwide lock down. The person violating the provisions related to the lock down may suffer the legal actions on their intentional negligent act. 

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