In recent times when India is struggling with Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizen (NRC) with other capital riots including armed forces and unlawful assembly,COVID-19 knock the door as a pandemic disease. The current situation going on in India is about coronavirus infection and its effect on people. Everywhere because of coronavirus, people started talking about lockdown, curfew and especially section 144. Now, varieties of questions come in mind that why government is putting such strict restrictions and what is the use of lockdown, curfew and section 144 regarding coronavirus. But the actual fact is that, the government is trying to control COVID- 19. The government is putting an effort to control COVID-19 so that it should not cross its third stage and goes beyond the medical facilities. Across the world COVID-19 has taken the lives of lakhs of people. Still thousands of people are infected and the death rate is going beyond the medical facilities. And so far, keeping public health and public welfare in mind, the government of various countries applied the degree of section 144.
The practice of public health in India has been a dynamic process and has taken many hurdles and struggles to maintain the lives of people of this country. The new agenda of public health in India is due to increase in elderly population and the rising burden of chronic and communicable disease including environmental changes. Inadequate financial resources for health consequences and the low utilization results in inadequate public health rates.
Talking about the Indian situation on COVID-19, it has still not gone beyond the medical facilities. And so not to take any further risk before the condition goes out of control, government of India has applied the degree of section 144 in the third stage of COVID-19. Before going towards the topic, it is firstly required to understand the function of section 144 and curfew. Considering that these terms restrict our fundamental right in some sense but it is required to know its true imports.
SECTION 144 AND CURFEW
In simple words, section 144 of CrPc provides that the public interest can issue any order in urgent cases of nuisance and apprehended danger. Let us consider that if the state is going out of control then section 144 will be applied. But after section 144, if the condition is not under control then lockdown is applied.And to do it on a more stricter way curfew will be applied. Each and every person in state has to follow these three degrees if applied. Curfew is a larger action taken to control the grave situation. And if any person is not following these above-mentioned degrees then the punishments are as follows:
There are four sections under IPC for the violation of the above three degrees. Those sections are: section 188, 269, 270 and section 271. These four sections have provision to block India. Discussing about all these four punishments accordingly.
Section 188: let us take an example like you are a part of an unlawful assembly. You went out with your four other friends when section 144 was applied. On seeing you the government official told you to disperse but you didn’t follow them. And so, according to section 188 you will be punished for 6 months of imprisonment and fine.
Section 269 and 270: these two sections are related to public health. Let us take an example like if a person is negligently roaming here and there and knows that he can transmit his disease to some other person, then that person will be punished under section 269. Under which he will be punished with six months of imprisonment and fine. Now, section 270 says that if a person knows that he has a disease and if that person roam here and there through which other people can be infected then that person will be punished under section 270. Under which he will be imprisoned for two years and fine.
Section 271: let us consider like if a person is said to be in quarantine, he has to be in a particular facility and should not come out of the quarantine because of his disease. But that person leaves the quarantine and went somewhere outside. Then that person will be punished under section 271. Under which he will be imprisoned for two years with fine.
These are the four sections under which the person will be punished if not followed the government order.
Section 144 is passed by an executive magistrate but lockdown and curfew are passed by district magistrate. These three provisions are similar but their grounds are same. The grounds which comes under them are: danger to human life, riot and affray that is violence and public tranquillity that means public peace. If these three grounds come in danger then those three terms that is section 144, lockdown and curfew will come in force. Now, what is the actual function of section 144 and curfew. What does they do?
Section 144 prohibits Nirodhananja and people gathering. It means more than five people or five people can’t be in one place. It means that more than four people can’t go out of their house together and can’t be in one place. Nirodhananja means whoever is armed with any harmful weapons and any other thing which is likely to cause death, is a member of unlawful assembly and shall be punished under description which may extend to two years of imprisonment and fine. Lockdown means that along with unlawful assembly and arms it shuts down flights, trains and other transportation except some grocery shops, pharmaceutical shops etc. Now moving toward curfew, it means that if violence is going on in state or public health is under risk then curfew comes under force. It takes strict measures to keep people under police permission. Under this section unlike section 144 many essential services can be banned like petrol pumps, banks etc. In spite of this whether it is section 144, lockdown or curfew government authorities has the power to block internet or to ban it.
This is what the function of section 144 and curfew is. Government is taking these steps only for the benefit of public health. The situation should not go out of control and there should not be lakhs of death, no person should lose their beloved once and for the sake of people government is bringing such laws under force.
Since lockdown and curfew is not a legal term but it’s a part of section 144 which play as a member of this section. These terms are defined by the government officials in order to restrict free movements of goods and other essential services when the public health or public peace comes under danger. Under this terms quarantine and isolation comes as such. Quarantine means separating and preventing people to gather together who are actually not ill. But in such a manner to prevent contamination or infection. On the other hand, isolation means separating the ill or contaminated person to come in contact with the healthy people. In such a manner to prevent the spread of contamination or infection. Curfew means it is a stricter part followed by the public and ordered by the magistrate. Under this the government can ban all the essential services for controlling public health and to bring the state under stable condition.
As the number of COVID cases increases in Maharashtra, the government decided to impose section 144. And in all urban areas including the capital state of India government has imposed section 144 till 3rd may. In India in maximum states government has imposed section 144 in order to curb the situation. For public safety and to minimize the threat of COVID-19. According to World Health Organisation (WHO) there are more than two lakhs confirmed cases and more than eight thousand death rates. It is to be declared as a worldwide pandemic. Flights cancellation, restrictions of public movement, ban on various essential services which led to the consequences of unprecedented disruption across the economic and industrial world. In many public instances or sense it seems to be prepping as if it’s the end of the world. In worldwide the country’s which have greatest hit by COVID-19 is Italy, China, US and Germany. While such all countries couldn’t able to construct medicals for the patients. Because the number of death rates in these all countries goes beyond the medical facilities. But according to WHO in India the death rate due to COVID-19 is much less than the above-mentioned countries. Therefore, the outbreak of novel coronavirus is a threat to human life. And hence to control this threat section 144 is imposed by the magistrate. However, the role of government is crucial for addressing these challenges and to achieve the public health issues, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) plays a key role in guiding India’s public health system.
This virus is similar to that of common cold. But these are the more severe ones. But a type of astonishment is there in public because of this virus. But its common because if there would be some treatment for this disease, then there were no dread. But actually, this new type of virus has no treatment. But the Indian health centres are trying and making their full efforts to find vaccines for COVID-19. This virus is spread from china. And it is noticed that most travellers from china to India especially those Indians who arrived from Wuhan university of China bought this virus in India as well. So, the government of India has stopped e-visa from China. And the health ministry is also indulged in preparing medicines for such viruses. The best way to tackle with this virus is to take homeopathic precautions. Like, garlic water, black pepper, cinnamon etc. Avoid eating food from outside, drink plenty of boiled water, wash your hands after coming from outside. For more precautions wear face mask so that your face couldn’t come directly in contact with air. Then maintain social distancing with outsiders they may be infected and you may also get it. After coming from outside without washing hands or without cleaning it with sanitiser don’t touch it on your face. These are the ways by which a person can halt themselves to be infected. And now, slowly this virus goes up to its third stage. Each day in some states of India this COVID-19 gives its outbreak. First, it was one victim and now came to more than tenthousand of them. And so forth to bring control in the outbreak of COVID-19 to stable the condition of the state, government has bought lockdown under force. One cannot ignore the harm already caused by COVID-19 due to its quick growth rate and to further impediment the situation by staying in home, maintaining law and order, be safe.
About the author
Mahitha lall of Vels University, Chennai, Pallavaram, pursuing B.A.LL.B (Hons) second year. Her house is in the beautiful port of Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.