COVID-19: The Law of the Lockdown


On Tuesday, March 24, 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on national television that India would remain in lockdown for 21 days to stop the spread of the global epidemic COVID-19 (Corona virus). The Prime Minister’s decision came two days after he advised Indian citizens to follow the Janata Curfew, which was a voluntary curfew. The Janata Curfew worked to prepare Indian citizens for the current lockdown.

The Home Ministry issued a formal notification requesting a lockdown under Section 6 of the Disaster Management Act. The Home Secretary, in his capacity as Chairman of the National Executive Committee constituted under Section 8 of the Disaster Management Act, issued instructions regarding this lockdown.

Surprisingly, the terms ‘lockdown’ and ‘curfew’ are not defined under Indian law but are still used to reduce the fundamental right of movement under Article 19 (1) of the Indian Constitution. Are used for It cannot be declared invalid as this right is subject to reasonable restrictions under Article 19 (2). The closest understanding of lockdown can be found in the Epidemic Diseases Act (EDA). Sections 2 and 2A of the EDA authorize state and central governments to take the necessary steps in the event of an epidemic to control the epidemic, even if these measures are mentioned in any law, custom or ideology in the country. Could not be

In search of the Disaster Management Act, which was used to enforce the lockdown, section 2 (d) reads: “Disaster, catastrophe, catastrophe or catastrophic event in any area, arising from natural or man-made causes By, or by accident or negligence resulting in considerable loss of life or human suffering or loss, and destruction, property, or damage to the environment, or extinction, and the nature or extent to which it is to be confronted. The community in the affected area is not intended to deal with epidemics or diseases of any kind, but rather tsunamis and earthquakes. The Interior Ministry, however, termed the spread of COVID-19 as a “reported catastrophe”, thus implementing Section 2 (d) of the Disaster Management Act. Helped use a large portion of the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) to deal with it.

It is interesting to note that when the lockdown was announced, it did not apply to any law. Nowhere is it made clear that the government has the authority to say anything about this. It seems that this policy was first announced, and then the government considered which law applies. Calling the outbreak a “reported catastrophe” is the first step in expanding the scope of government authority that can be used to make immediate administrative decisions to combat the disease. It is important for the government to support its policies and decisions with legal provisions as it endorses these measures.

To pursue the announcement of a nationwide lockdown, the Home Ministry, using Section 10 (2) (l) of the Disaster Management Act, issued instructions directing the state and central governments to take necessary steps during this 21st day. The guidelines state that not all types of transport services (air, train, and road travel) will work during this period. Commercial and private establishments will remain closed, except for ration shops, banks, ATMs, media services and telecommunications companies. The directive also states under paragraph 17 that any person violating these control measures shall be liable under sections 51 to 60 (offenses and penalties) of the Disaster Management Act and section 188 of the Indian Penal Code. Will be responsible for the punishment for his disobedience. Order by order from a government employee.

In the case of West Bengal’s Banga Kheet Mazdoor Samiti v. State of West Bengal, the Supreme Court said that the Government of India is committed to providing adequate health care to its citizens. But the current status of medical facilities (including, but not limited to, the number of people trained to deal with tests, kits, hospitals and the like) suggests that India needs a Disaster Management Act or an epidemic. More than an act is needed. It only empowers the government to take such actions as it deems necessary. India needs a mechanism and a comprehensive framework to combat this kind of epidemic.

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