Covid 19 And The Law In India
Avish Bhati, Advocate
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Date : 02/09/2020
Covid 19 And The Law In IndiaCoronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is defined as illness caused by a novel coronavirus now called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, which was first identified amid an outbreak of respiratory illness cases in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. It was initially reported to the WHO on December 31, 2019. On January 30, 2020, the WHO declares the COVID-19 outbreak a global health emergency. On March 11, 2020, the WHO declares COVID-19 a global pandemic, its first such designation since declaring H1N1 influenza a pandemic in 2009. The WHO leads global efforts on creating safer practices and preventing public health disasters throughout the world and to fulfil the same objectives WHO introduced International Health Regulations. These were adopted in the year 2005 and were enforced in the year 2007. These regulations are legally binding agreement on all WHO members including India whereby all the member countries must make necessary measures- legislatively and institutionally to prepare for international public health risks. COVID-19 is a problem of public health which leads to problem of public order. Now through legal point of view, the Constitution of India under Article 245 specifies basis for division of powers between the Centre and the states and under Article 246 explains distribution of law-making power between the Centre and the states. According to Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India Public Order and Public Health comes under the State List, thereby, state governments have the authority to deal with issues relating to Public health and order but according to Entry 29 of the Concurrent List in Seventh Schedule centre has more power than states to make a law and take certain actions in preventing the spreading of infectious diseases from one state to another. Therefore, Centre has come up with national lockdown and it is implemented across the states. National Disaster Management Act, 2005 is the key empowering provision for the lockdown to exist. The lockdown has been carried out by state governments and district authorities on the directions of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs under the said act. Under the Act, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) was set up under the leadership of the Prime Minister, and the National Executive Committee (NEA) was chaired by the Home Secretary. After being satisfied that COVID-19 is a pandemic as per WHO the National Disaster Management Authority headed by Prime Minister directed the Centre and states to ensure social distancing as per section 6(2)(i) of the Act and the National Executive Committee headed by the Home Secretary directed the lockdown orders with specific details as per section 10(2)(l) of the Act. On March 24, 2020, the NDMA and NEA issued orders directing the Union Ministries, State governments and authorities to take effective measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The invoking of National Disaster Management Act has allowed the Union government to control the pandemic and to communicate seamlessly with the States. Government of India is taking all necessary steps to ensure that we are prepared well to face the challenge and threat posed by the growing pandemic of COVID-19.
• In our country, disobedience to the rules set out by the government to control COVID-19 is punishable with Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code,1860. Under this section, whoever, knowing that, by an order promulgated by a public servant, disobeys the order, and if such disobedience causes or tends to cause danger to human life, health or safety, or causes or tends to cause a riot or affray, shall be punished with an imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.
• Failure to take requisite precautions despite being aware of the possibility of the spread of such infection or disease is punishable under Sections 269 and 270 of the IPC.
• Under Section 269, whoever unlawfully or negligently does any act which is, and which he knows or has reason to believe to be, likely to spread the infection of any disease dangerous to life, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description up to six months or fine or with both fine and imprisonment. Under Section 270, whoever malignantly does any act which is, and which he knows or has reason to believe to be, likely to spread the infection of any disease dangerous to life, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.
• Disobedience to quarantine rule is punishable under Section 271 of the IPC with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine, or with both.Tough times never last, but tough people do. We should strictly follow the guidelines laid down by the government. The disease spreads primarily from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, which are expelled when a person with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes, or speaks. People can catch Covid-19 if they breathe in these droplets from a person infected with the virus. This is why it is important to stay at least 1 meter away from others. These droplets can land on objects and surfaces around the person such as tables, doorknobs and handrails. This is why it is important to wash your hands regularly with soap and water or clean with alcohol-based hand rub. We all need to understand the repercussion of not following the rules laid down by the government and the catastrophic effect on the whole country if we disregard the precautionary measures mandated by the State.
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