Coronavirus – Imprisonment or Abide by Law

Coronavirus – Imprisonment or Abide by Law, India has enforced the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus

In Corona outbreak, India’s first FIR was registered by Agra Police against a father of a 25-yr-old-woman for misleading authorities about the whereabouts of his daughter, a suspected COVID-19 patient under sections 269 & 270 of IPC.

Every country has its legal regime to respond to emergent health situations and India has got its own. India has enforced the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. The Epidemic Diseases Act is the main legislative framework at the central level for the prevention and spread of dangerous epidemic diseases.

The u/s 10 of Act empowers the Central and State Govt. to take necessary measures to deal with dangerous infectious disease at entry and exit ports, promulgate regulations to deal with epidemics within their state jurisdictions. As per the Constitution, though public health is a state subject, the Concurrent List or List-III within the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India shares over 52 rules which empowers both state and Centre to enforce various rules.

Attacks on doctors and health workers have been reported from several states in recent weeks. Following the complaints from the medical fraternity, the Union Cabinet on April 22 approved promulgation of an Ordinance to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 to protect healthcare service personnel.

The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, makes assault on healthcare personnel a cognisable and non-bailable offence and proposes a jail of 3 months to 5 years and a fine of Rs 50,000 to Rs 2 lakh for minor hurt. For grievous injury, the perpetrator would attract a jail term ranging from 6 months to 7 years and a fine between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 5 lakh. Investigation will be completed in 30 days and case decided in a year.

It is the first time in the history of Independent India the country has come to a complete standstill. Given the grave threat by SARS CoV-2 the lockdown is undoubtedly the need of the hour. However many have questioned the Constitutional validity in consonance with the fundamental rights. During the times of public health emergencies, governments can enforce reasonable restrictions on the fundamental right “to move freely throughout the territory of India.’ for its citizens.

The Supreme Court has also clarified that the right of privacy is an essential component of the right to life, but that it is not absolute and may be restricted to prevent crime or disorder, or to protect health, morals, or the rights and freedom of others.

Citizens can be booked under the following during pandemic situation by their respective authority – Stepping outside home & roaming freely, or not wearing mask in public place, misleading authority in whereabouts of COVID-19 positive or suspected patient, not cooperating with healthcare professional & authority, breaking quarantine rule as advised, hiding travel history & health symptoms, inappropriate behaviour with medical staff, circulating warning on disaster or fake news about pandemic etc. can land you in jail

Authorities in several parts of the country, including Delhi, have already invoked Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure that prohibits the assembly people

Know the section under which an individual are often charged with FIR

  • Section 188 of IPC -Any one that disobeys any regulation or order, Act could also be charged with an offence Imprisonment for 6 months, or fine of Rs. 1000/-, or both- Cognizable (Police can arrest without warrant) – Bailable- Triable by any Magistrate- Non-compoundable (complaint by complainant can’t be withdrawn)

Imprisonment for 2 years, or fine, or both-Cognizable- Bailable- Triable by any magistrate, – Non compoundable

  • Section 270 of IPC– Malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life

Imprisonment for 2 years, or fine, or both-Cognizable-Bailable- Triable by any magistrate, – Non compoundable

  •  Section 271 of IPC– Disobedience to quarantine rule Imprisonment for 2 years, or 6 months, fine, or both-Non Cognizable-Bailable- Triable by any magistrate,– Non compoundable

(Recently U.P police registered FIR on Singer Kanika Kapoor u/s 188,269 and 270 of IPC)

  • Section 65 of Delhi Police Act – (persons bound to comply with reasonable directions of police officers) Police can detain the person under this section)

       Various FIR has also been done u/s 66 of Delhi Police Act (vehicles are impounded)

  • Section 51 of Disaster Management Act, 2005. – Punishment for obstruction, etc.—Whoever, without reasonable cause—

(a) Obstructs any officer within the discharge of his functions under this Act; or

(b) Refuses to suits any direction given by Authority under this Act, shall on

Conviction be punishable with imprisonment for a term which can extend to one year or with fine, or with both, and if such obstruction or refusal to comply with directions leads to loss of lives or imminent danger thereof, shall on conviction be punishable with imprisonment for a term which can extend to two years.

Before creating, posting, sharing and forwarding any message, one must remember about the implications of an equivalent if not true and create panic in any way.

Legal action against anyone who spreads rumours about the virus and causes a state of panic among the overall population

Section 54 of Disaster Management Act, 2005– Punishment for false warning.—whoever makes or circulates a warning or warning on disaster or its severity or magnitude, resulting in panic, shall on conviction, be punishable with imprisonment which may reach one year or with fine.

 Section 505(1) of Indian legal code , 1860: The punishment for creating , publishing or circulating any statement, rumour or report which can cause fear or alarm to the general public , or to any section of the general public .

Imprisonment which may reach 3 years or fine or both.

Section 66D of data Technology Act: Whoever, by means for any communication device or computer resource cheats by personating.

Punishment: imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall even be susceptible to fine which may extend to one lakh rupees.

The only help a citizen can get and do is to stay safe   at wherever he/ she is abide law  and in times of difficulties call at emergency numbered shared by their respective  states and authorities.

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