In this blog, the author has discussed the impact of lockdown policies issued by the Government and the laws relating to quarantine enforcement during this period.
The Novel Coronavirus, COVID-19 which was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization in March has caused unexpected damage to human health and welfare beyond imagination. It has caused a great depression to the World Economy, which has affected all kinds of people from rags to riches sparing nobody, quite evident that the word has come to a standstill however, the extent of the ramifications caused is still unclear. With a death toll crossing 1,60,000 worldwide and more than 500 in India, quarantine and social distancing is the only possible way to reduce the impact. Quarantine and travel bans have been imposed. India too has taken effective measures and has subjected people to legally enforceable quarantine or self-quarantine. The Central Government of India has invoked the Disaster Management Act (DMA) 2005 and Epidemic Diseases Act 1897 which is a colonial-era law. This article will give an overview of these acts and whether they are helping the Central and State Governments to impede the phenomenal growth of the virus.
Disaster Management Act, 2005:
The object and purpose of the act are to efficiently manage disasters which includes preparation, includes mitigation strategies building capacity and more. The COVID-19 outbreak has been included as a “Notified disaster” and as a ‘critical medical condition or pandemic situation’ by the Central Government. Section 35 of the act states that the Central Government has the powers to take measures. Specifically, section 65 expounds that for ‘rescue operations’, the National Executive Committee, State Executive Committee, or District Authority, may authorize using resources of private persons too. Sections 51 to 60 of the Act lay down penalties for specific offenses. Anyone found obstructing any officer or employee from performing their duty will be imprisoned for a term which may extend to one year or fined, or both. The Ministry of Health and Family welfare has given the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority to increase the availability and control the pricing of face masks, alcohol-based hand sanitizers, surgical masks and gloves. Due to such exceeding demand for pharmaceutical commodities, few middlemen and counterfeiters are taking full advantage of the pandemic and producing goods which are fake and are of low quality. Around 12,300 fake N95 masks were seized in Bengaluru by raiding the warehouse of a firm in Eastern Bangalore. On further investigation it was found out that the firm had already sold around 70,000 fake N95 masks worth Rs 1.05 crore and was lobbying to win a government contract for 10,000 N95 masks. Section 53 of the DMA provides punishment for misappropriation of money and materials; for such persons who are entrusted with a job to provide relief in a threatening disaster or situation instead, misuse the situation for their own good and are punishable with imprisonment for a term of two years also with fine.
Spitting in public places has become has a punishable offence. This has been done by the Union Home Ministry in its revised guidelines under DMA. Spitting has been made punishable with a fine unde