Laws Related to Covid-19 in IndiaImage Courtesy - Lloyd Law College

The entire world is going through a pandemic which had never happened or even thought of before. With the outbreak of the pandemic causing, Corona Virus a lot of chaos can be witnessed globally. The deadly virus that originated from China spread to the world with the blink of an eye and did global destruction. Since the death toll is rising at an alarming rate, the panic amongst the general public is increasing also to make it very difficult for the government around the world to handle. It is well known that since we don't have any vaccine to cure COVID-19, we can only practice precautions as advised by the World Health Organization (WHO) to stay away from the virus. Self-isolation, being quarantined, maintaining social distancing, practising personal hygiene are the only ways as of now to prevent the spread of the virus. We have already witnessed how COVID-19 has made the government of the most developed nation, helpless. It is high time we Indians realize that with a population of over 1.3 billion, illiteracy, poor hygiene practiced by many, scarcity of the medical help, and most importantly adamant nature of some Indians if we don't follow the guidelines of WHO rigorously the condition of India can be worse than that of Italy. When the cases started rising in India as well, the Indian government tried its first card to combat the virus by announcing a one day Janta Curfew on 22nd March 2020 which was strictly adhered to quite an extend. Following the Janta Curfew, the Central Government announced a 21-day lockdown in the entire nation with an effort to fight against the Corona Virus. But people started taking the lockdown very lightly, they, were not staying quarantined, there were long lines outside shops because people started panic buying while there were a few who took the lockdown period as a vacation or a holiday to party.

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 It is seen some people don’t value their lives, their family’s lives, keep aside the nation and roam around freely. There is an urgent need to educate the Indians of the seriousness of the situation ,and the best way is to make them aware of the laws related to COVID-19 and let them know the consequences they can face for breaking the rules of the lockdown.

Here are a few laws related to COVID-19 that should be known to all citizens of India.

A) Section 271 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 - “Disobedience to quarantine rule. This section clearly says that whosoever disobeys the quarantine rule shall be punished with imprisonment or fine or both.

B) Section 269 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 -
“Negligent act likely to spread infection of disease danger­ous to life. This section applies to those who negligently act to spread the virus. They shall be penalized with imprisonment or fine or both.

C) Section 270 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860- “Malignant act likely to spread infection of disease danger­ous to life. This law is for those who know the consequence of their actions could lead to the spread of the virus and still choose to do such an act shall be penalized.

D) The Epidemic Disease Act, 1897-  Power to take special measures and prescribe regulations as a too dangerous epidemic disease.
(1) When at any time the [State Government] is satisfied that [the State] or any part thereof is visited by, or threatened with, an outbreak of any dangerous epidemic disease, the [State Government], if [it] thinks that the ordinary provisions of the law for the time being in force are insufficient for the purpose, may take, or require or empower any person to take, such measures and, by public notice, prescribe such temporary regulations to be observed by the public or by any person or class of persons as [it] shall deem necessary to prevent the outbreak of such disease or the spread thereof, and may determine in what manner and by whom any expenses incurred (including compensation if any) shall be defrayed.
(2) In particular and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing provisions, the [State Government] may take measures and prescribe regulations for

(b) The inspection of persons travelling by railway or otherwise, and the segregation, in hospital, temporary accommodation or otherwise, of persons suspected by the inspecting officer of being infected with any such disease.

[2A. Powers of Central Government.— When the Central Government is satisfied that India or any part thereof is visited by, or threatened with, an outbreak of any dangerous epidemic disease and that the ordinary provisions of the law for the time being in force are insufficient to prevent the outbreak of such disease or the spread thereof, the Central Government may take measures and prescribe regulations for the inspection of any ship or vessel leaving or arriving at any port in 2 [the territories to which this Act extends] and for such detention thereof, or of any person intending to sail therein, or arriving thereby, as may be necessary.]
(3)Penalty.—Any person disobeying any regulation or order made under this Act shall be deemed to have committed an offense punishable under section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860).
(4)Protection to persons acting under Act.—No suit or other legal proceedings shall lie against any person for anything done or in good faith intended to be done under this Act

E) Section 188 of Indian Penal Code - “Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code prescribes punishment for disobeying an order duly promulgated by a public servant.” The above-mentioned law is for those defaulters who disobey the orders of the public servants and roan around aimlessly during the lockdown.

F) Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code “Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) imposes power to the executive magistrate to restrict particular or a group of persons residing in a particular area while visiting a certain place or area.” The most important preventive measure against corona is safeguarded by this section that restricts to a gathering of people and thus in a way supports social distancing.

G) Section 3 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 During this time of global crisis, the citizens need to know what counts as essential commodities and what items are to be avoided.

H) Schedule 1 of the Essential services act provides a list of services in the category of essential that would we provided during the period of lockdown. The central government has allowed the flow of essential services during the lockdown thus it becomes extremely necessary for us to know what services are covered as essential in the act.

I) Disaster Management Act, 2005 & National Disaster Management Guidelines, 2008 deals with the management of biological disasters.

While there is a list of laws related to COVID-19, we as responsible citizens need to realize that these laws are made for our betterment only and if we realize the seriousness of the ongoing crisis there would be no need to implement strict laws against the defaulters. The defaulters here are not just risking their lives but the lives of the nation as a whole. Time and again we are told to stay quarantined yet the police have to work on double shifts to penalize the defaulters. It is high time we take COVID-19 as a very serious issue and cooperate with the government to help not make India the second Italy.

Author
Shivangi Bajpai