Analysis: Lockdown announced by Prime Minister

Reading time: 6-8 minutes.

As we know our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has announced 21 days lockdown on 24th March 2020 due to the spread of novel coronavirus in our country. Considering the current situation PM has done a great job and a smart move was played by him to control the number of infected persons. As we know cases of coronavirus are increasing every day at a very rapid rate every citizen must cooperate and equally participate in fighting against this pandemic. Globally the confirmed positive cases as crossed half million now hence locking down the nation for 21 days and social distancing is necessary to break the chain of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a new illness that affects the human lungs and airways.

Centre and different states took various measures to protect their state from coronavirus they are as follows:-

States have been told to ensure timely payment of wages to laborers at their place of work during the lockdown. House rent should not be demanded from laborers for this period.

Orissa HC has instructed the state authorities to make apposite arrangements for providing food, shelter and ensure the medical screening for migrants.

  Andhra Pradesh HC directed the state government to ensure that the health workers have necessary personal protective equipment.

Jammu & Kashmir has passed a series of orders to ensure social distancing, to break the transmission cycle of the deadly virus.

A batch of 275 people evacuated from the coronavirus – hit Iran on Sunday, were taken to the Army Wellness Facility set up at Jodhpur.

Salient features of the lockdown

  • Social distancing is one of the major motives of the lockdown to break the chain of COVID-19.
  • The government notified that during 21 days lockdown the availability of essential commodities and things required for basic necessity will remain the same.
  • This lockdown is like curfew even more strict than ‘Janta Curfew’ because legal actions can take place if anyone violates the conditions of lockdown.
  • The facility of transport service- air, rail, and roadways are suspended during this lockdown.
  • Except for the government and private offices involved in essential services all the offices remain close.
  • The lockdown will lead to economic crisis in the country but the priority was given to save lives as rightly said by the respected Prime Minister Narendra Modi “Jaan hai to Jahan hai”

Sanctions against violation

The lockdown announced by the Prime Minister of India in order to control the increasing number of coronavirus patients and to break the chain shall be followed strictly. However, those who are not taking it seriously shall be liable for violating the lockdown orders given by the public servant under the following sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC):-

Section 269 – Negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life shall be punished for imprisonment up to six months, or fine, or both.

Section 270 – Malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life shall be liable for imprisonment up to two years, or fine, or both.

Section 188 – Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant shall be liable for imprisonment up to six months, and fine up to 1000 Rupees, or both.

While the punishment can vary from fact to fact and case to case, violators could be imprisoned for up to two years and fined up to 1000 rupees.

Legal provisions

19 states had announced complete lockdown. The Government of India is deriving powers to issue such directives and guidelines provided under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 (EDA) and Disaster Management Act, 2005 (DMA). These are the two acts that provide the statutory basis to the Centre and the State to act against the Coronavirus. These acts contain sufficient provisions to act in a manner to protect the country, due to which Centre found no necessity of declaring an emergency in the country.

The Epidemic Disease Act, 1897 is a small but important act containing only four sections giving power to both Central as well as State governments to take special measures and prescribe such regulation to prevent the spread of  ” dangerous epidemic disease”. Under Section 2A of the Act, the Central government has the power to take any measures or prescribe regulations to inspect any ship or vessel leaving or arriving in any port and to detain any person planning to leave or arrive in India. The revised travel advisory issued by a group of ministers, including the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, is an example of this.

State governments also have the power under Section 2(1) of the Epidemic Act to take measures to prevent the outbreak of dangerous epidemic disease by prescribing regulations to be enforced concerning any person or group of people. An example of this would be the order on March 16 under the Delhi Epidemics Diseases, COVID -19 Regulations, 2020, whereby the Delhi government has restricted gatherings with groups of more than 50 persons till March 31.

The Disaster Management Act, 2005:

The Epidemic Disease Act, 1897 does not provide any such guidelines and infrastructure to deal with such an Epidemic that’s why the Parliament in 2005 enacted the Disaster Management Act. The definition of a “disaster” in Section 2 (d) of the Disaster Management Act states that a disaster means a “catastrophe, mishap, calamity or grave occurrence in any area, arising from natural or man-made causes”.

 To address the current epidemic outbreak, the Central government has included the COVID-19 outbreak as “Notified Disaster” as a “critical medical condition or pandemic situation”. Through this act, the government gets access to the appropriate funds so as provide relief and other facilities in such worst conditions. There are three funds: the National Disaster Response Fund, the State Disaster Response Fund, and the District Disaster Response fund.

Under Section 46 of the act, the National Executive Committee and the National Disaster Management Authority can authorize the use of such funds for emergency responses, relief, and rehabilitation.

The State Disaster Response Fund is being used for multiple purposes, such as setting up quarantine facilities, establishing additional labs, covering the cost of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers, procuring thermal scanners, ventilators, air purifiers and consumables for government hospitals including food, clothing and medical care to people isolated there. Besides, they are also used to cover the cost of consumables for sample collection, screening and contact tracing of positive persons.

Constitution validity

 As we know, our Constitution is supreme and consider as a grundnorm. Every enacted law derives its validity from the Constitution of India. Any provision or act which is in contravention with the Articles of the constitution is void ab initio.  The lockdown for 21 days announced by the prime minister is valid. As the constitution grants powers to the PM also Article 256 deals with the obligation of state and the union’s executive power and extending the power of Union of giving necessary directions to the State as may appear to the Government of India to be necessary for the purpose.

The pandemic that is affecting every country and India as a whole and the declaration of lockdown was in order to prevent the life of the people. Since there is no internal or external aggression the provision regarding emergency was not activate which means that fundamental rights cannot be suspended.

Here the Centre, the state and the citizens came together and agreed on wilfully waving of their right to movement and bound themselves in certain boundaries to fight against this pandemic disease i.e. Coronavirus collectively and it is completely valid as it is for the welfare of the society.

Conclusion

Corona Virus is pandemic in nature and it is widely spreading all over the world, destroying the economic conditions. The Centre has announced 21 days lockdown to control the disaster which is ready to knock down the country. The lockdown is constitutionally valid and it shall be strictly followed by the people otherwise the person shall be legally liable for his acts under IPC.

Author: Anushika Parashar from Mody University, Lacchamangarh.

Editor: Tamanna Gupta from RGNUL, Patiala.

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