The world being caught up in the middle of a battle against an invisible foe is
something that the present generation never witnessed before. The times are
difficult. People are overwhelmed by the intensity of the effects of a
contagious disease, called COVID-19, that has taken over the whole world, yet
the government of every Nation is leaving no stone unturned in nullifying the
adverse consequences of the present pandemic on their people.
India is no exception to this when it comes to performing endeavours to protect
the country from a lethal virus. With the rise in a number of cases and
unfortunate casualties, because of the ill impact of the ongoing pandemic,
skyrocketing in India, imposing and implementing law of the land becomes sine
qua non in providing some respite to the ailing current scenario in the country.
This is what the present article will be dealing with. It, therefore,
becomes prudent to understand the law and legal provisions in India providing
the required force to the restrictions (lockdown) being imposed in the country
as per the urgency of the situation.
Note : The term Lockdown
is not a legal term. This term is commonly used to
represent the restrictions imposed. It simply means restrictions imposed by the
government in the movements of its people, except for the essential services, in
order to arrest the spread of any dangerous contagious disease or to prevent the
same from becoming an outbreak.
Legislations Providing For Restrictions In Emergent Situations
Here, the following legislations and legal provisions are discussed which give a
meaning to the imposition of restrictions on the movement of the people
(lockdown) in emergent situations.
- The Disaster Management Act, 2005
- The Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897
- Indian Penal Code, 1860
- The Criminal Procedure Code, 1973
Disaster Management Act:
The Disaster Management Act is a legislation passed by the Government of India
to provide for the effective management of disasters and for matters connected
therewith or incidental thereto.
The objective of this legislation is to manage disasters, capacity building,
aiding the common man in times of disaster, etc. Not only the Central government
but also state governments and Local governments work in coordination with each
other in an endeavour to lessen the impact of a disaster by, including but not
limited to, inspecting the availability of required and emergent resources
present to arrest the growth of such a disaster in the country, states and local
The term Disaster
as per this Act means a catastrophe, mishap, calamity or
grave occurrence in any area, arising from natural or man made causes, or by
accident or negligence which results in substantial loss of life or human
suffering or damage to, and destruction of, property, or damage to, or
derogation of, environment, and is of such a nature or magnitude as to be beyond
the coping capacity of the community of the affected areas.
And the term disaster management means a continuous and integrated process of
planning, organising, coordinating and implementing measures which are necessary
or expedient for:
- prevention of danger or threat of any disaster
- mitigation or reduction of risk of any disaster or its severity or
- preparedness to deal with any disaster;
- prompt response to any threatening disaster situation or disaster
- assessing the severity or magnitude of effects of any disaster;
- evacuation, rescue and relief;
- rehabilitation and reconstruction.
Section 51 of the Disaster Management Act prescribed punishment for two types of
offences. Firstly, for obstructing any officer or employee of the central or
state government or any person authorised by the National Authority or State
Authority or District Authority in the discharge of his functions under this
Act. Secondly, for refusing to comply with any direction given by or on behalf
of the Central Government or the State Government or the National Executive
Committee or the State Executive Committee or the District Authority under this
Therefore, a person disobeying or obstructing shall, on conviction, be
punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with
fine, or with both, and if such obstruction or refusal to comply with directions
results in loss of lives or imminent danger thereof, shall on conviction be
punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years.
The Epidemics Diseases Act, 1897:
The Epidemic Diseases Act is another legislation passed by the Government of
India in year 1897, intending to provide for the better protection of the spread
of dangerous epidemic diseases.
Section 2 of this Act, in cases where a state government is satisfied that the
state or any part of it is visited by or threatened with an outbreak of a
dangerous epidemic disease, empowers the state government to take, or require or
authorize any person to take such measures and providing for such temporary
regulations to be imposed and to be observed by the general public with a view
to contain the spread of any epidemic disease or its outbreak in an area.
For the above mentioned purpose in mind, the government has the power to take
measures and prescribe regulations for the inspection of persons travelling by
railways or otherwise, of persons suspected by the inspecting officer of being
infected with any such disease.
Likewise, Section 2A of the present Act gives powers to the Central Government,
in situations like mentioned above, to take measures and prescribe regulations
for the inspection of any ship or vessel leaving or arriving at certain ports
and for such detention of any person intending to sail therein, or arriving
thereby, as may be necessary with a view to contain the spread of or to prevent
the outbreak of any dangerous epidemic disease.
The regulations and orders by the government requiring for the limitation of
number of persons to be gathered at a given time and location is an
implementational part of the provisions of Epidemic Diseases Act.
Section 3 provides for penalty provision for persons disobeying any regulation
or order made under the Epidemic diseases Act and such person shall be deemed to
have committed an offence punishable under section 188 of Indian Penal code.
Therefore, the restrictions imposed by the government on the movement of the
people (lockdown), except for the essential services, is an effect of the
provisions of Section 2, 2A and Section 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897.
Section 188 of Indian Penal Code:
Section 188 of IPC can be considered as an extension of the Epidemic diseases
Act, 1897 giving teeth to the latter.
Section 188 prescribes punishment in the form of simple imprisonment for a term
which may extend to one month or with fine which may extend to two hundred
rupees or with both for an offence whereby any person, directed by an order of a
public servant to abstain from a certain act, or to take a certain order with
certain property in his possession or under his management, disobeys such
direction, if such disobedience causes or tends to cause obstruction, annoyance
or injury, or risk of obstruction, annoyance or injury, to any person lawfully
Also, the penalty is severe, that is, imprisonment of either description (simple
or rigorous) for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may
extend to one thousand rupees, or with both in cases where such disobedience
causes or trends to cause danger to human life, health or safety, or causes or
tends to cause a riot or affray.
Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973:
The criminal procedure code is a legislation setting out a detailed procedure
for the administration of substantive criminal law in India.
Section 144 of Crpc further provides teeth to the above discussed legislations.
It comes into play in two scenarios, firstly, in cases of nuisance,
and secondly, in cases of apprehended danger.
This section confers power to a District Magistrate, Sub-divisional Magistrate
or other Executive Magistrate, empowered by the state government, to direct any
person to abstain from a certain act or to take certain order with respect to
certain property in his possession or under his management, in cases where an
immediate prevention of a damage or speedy remedy is desirable, if such
Magistrate considers that such direction is likely to prevent, or tends to
prevent, obstruction, annoyance or injury to any person lawfully employed, or
danger to human life, health or safety, or a disturbance of the public
tranquility, or a riot, of an affray.
Therefore, an order under section 144 Crpc is passed in cases of emergency. The
restriction on the movement of the people in a certain area with the object of
preventing a harm, injury, annoyance etc to people in an affect of Section 144.
This legal provision is reflected in the government orders providing for the
restricted movement of people not exceeding five in a certain area. Now, taking
into consideration the ongoing pandemic, such order by the government under
section 144 of criminal procedure code has the potential to mitigate the
consequences of the contagious disease from being spread to a larger area.
Thus, the above legislations have come into effect with a sole purpose of
arresting the harmful consequences of an ongoing contagious disease.
Legislations are not only passed for the purposes of punishing a person for a
crime, but also for times like this, when a situation goes out of control being
worse hit by a pandemic. The purpose of such laws is to order people of the
state to acknowledge the gravity of a particular situation and to abide by the
commands of the government given with the sole intention of mitigating and
aiding the general public in difficult times.
The above laws discussed is in full force in India and in different States to
restrict the spread of a dangerous contagious disease. These legal provisions
are a doorway to a better tomorrow if respected and faithfully obeyed.
Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Rasleen Kour
Authentication No: MA113059802482-10-0521