NOTABLE DECLARATION MADE BY GOVERNMENT DURING PANDEMIC

NOTABLE DECLARATION MADE BY GOVERNMENT DURING PANDEMIC

INTRODUCTION

Countries around the world are taking measures to stop the spread of COVID 19, national quarantines to school disclosures. After ‘Janta Curfew’ on 23rd March 2020, the Central Government had imposed complete lockdown for 21 days all over India with effect from 25th March, 2020 and further , due to surge in coronavirus cases, the nationwide Lockdown has been extended till 3rd May,2020. In order to strictly implement the idea of social distancing various States and Cities has imposed Curfew as well. In Delhi, Chandigarh, Maharashtra and Punjab curfew has already been imposed by the State Governments. Indeed apart from Lockdown government has imposed various laws to prevent people from this pandemic. The topic of Curfew, Lockdown etc. is of broad and current interest but may not be understandable by layman. Therefore this article will briefly explain the legal implications made by the Government in the interest of general public.

CURFEW EXPLAINED

According to Cambridge English Dictionary, Curfew means ‘a rule that everyone must stay at home between particular times’. In India, the concept of Curfew is falls under Section 144 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. According to this Section, curfew can be imposed where there is sufficient ground to immediately prevent the danger to human life, health or safety, or disturbance of public tranquility, riot, or any other such circumstance giving rise to a situation where such orders are necessary to be passed.

It is not necessary that curfew is imposed upon all the public; it can also be directed towards a particular individual or persons living at particular place or area.

  • Duration

Curfew once imposed stays maximum for a period of 2 months, unless it is withdrawn before the said time period. In exceptional cases, State Government can enhance this period beyond 2 months but it cannot be extended beyond a total of 6 months in any case.

  • Punishment

If any person doesn’t obey the orders under Section 144 of Cr.P.C., he can be prosecuted under Section 188 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 for disobedience of orders duly promulgated by Public Servant.

Further, in this particular situation of spread of pandemic, a person can also be prosecuted under Section 269 and 270 of IPC for acting negligently to spread the infection of disease dangerous to life and Malignant act likely to spread infection of disease danger­ous to life, respectively.  

LOCKDOWN EXPLAINED

According to Cambridge English Dictionary, Lock down means ‘a situation in which people are not allowed to enter or leave a building or area freely because of an emergency’. Generally, people are allowed go outside for procuring essential services; but what all essential services would be particularly included in a particular lock down will always depend upon the seriousness and type of situation due to which the lock down has been imposed.

The provisions of lockdown, in case of spread of a disease, have been provided under the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897. The punishment or the implications for infringing the lockdown are lenient as compared to curfew. Generally, it leads to fine and in severe cases arrest can also be made but pursuant to the orders of the Magistrate. For the sake of understanding, a lockdown can also be termed as ‘a lenient curfew’.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CURFEW AND LOCKDOWN

From past so many days, we have been hearing these terms quite frequently and not many are aware about the minute differences between the two. Hence, this is very important to know how these situations are different from each other –

Curfew Lockdown
People can avail essential commodities during relaxation period only. Focuses on prevention of mass gatherings and essential services are available.
Curfew passes are required if any person needs to travel from one place to another, including persons engaged in providing essential services. No special pass is required for people engaged in essential services.
Very few exceptions, only services of utmost importance are given exemptions. List of exemptions are available; essential services remains accessible.
Can cause arrest under Section 188 of IPC. Can cause arrest only with the orders of the Magistrate.
Restaurants remains completely closed. Food can be ordered at home or take away services are available.
Derives legal basis from Section 144 Cr.P.C. Derives legal basis from Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897.

SIGNIFICANT GOVERNMENT DECLARATION

  1. Reserve Bank of India (RBI)

In the Press Release on 27th March, 2020, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has announced the following –

  • Last date for filing of GST Return for the month of March, April & May has been extended to 30th June, 2020.
  • Last date for filing Income Tax Return has also been extended to 30th June, 2020; previously it was 31st March, 2020.
  • No deduction or charges to be made for 3 months by any bank for not maintaining Minimum Balance in their Bank Accounts
  • No fee to be charged for 3 months on use of any other Bank’s ATM Machine.

On 27th March, 2020 RBI decreased the Repo Rate by 75 basis points from 5.15% to 4.40% with immediate effect. Repo rate is the rate on which RBI provides loans to commercial banks of the country. Due to this, banks can borrow money from RBI at much lesser interest which ultimately benefits the customers as there is reduction in interest rates on the loans offered to them.[1]

  • Ministry of Finance

In the Press Release on 27th March, 2020, Finance Minister NirmalaSitharaman has announced the following –

  • Allocation of 1.7 Lakh Crores relief scheme for poor under ‘PM GaribKalyan Scheme’.
  • 50 Lakh insurance for Medical Workers.
  • For Organized Sector, Government is going to amend Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) Scheme Regulations to allow withdrawal of 75% of the amount or 3 months wages, whichever is lower, on non-refundable basis.
  • The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI)

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has issued Guidelines on handling of claims reported under Coronavirus.

In the guidelines IRDAI has mentioned that the costs of admissible medical expenses during the course of treatment including the treatment during quarantine period shall be settled in accordance to the applicable terms and conditions of policy contract and all the claims reported under COVID 19 shall be thoroughly reviewed by the claims review committee before repudiating the claims. [2]

  • Ministry Of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution

The Department of Consumer Affairs under Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution has issued notifications wherein the following has been decided –

  • Masks and Sanitizers have been included in the category of ‘essential commodities’.[3]
  • The notification has been issued by Central Government regarding the enhancement of production of hand sanitizers and to ensure its availability to consumers.
  • The retail prices of 3ply surgical masks shall not be more than Rs. 10/- and 2ply mask shall not be more than Rs. 8/-, or the rate prevailing on 12th February, 2020, whichever is lower. And the 200ml of hand sanitizers shall not cost more than Rs. 100/-.[4]
  • Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD)
  • The MHRD on 24th March, 2020, has notified that the infrastructure available in the JawaharNavodayaVidyalayas (JNVs) functioning under MHRD, could be utilized for the purpose of setting up temporary camps for isolation or medical facility.[5]
  • On 20th March, 2020, the MHRD, in order to promote digital learning for students so that they can continue learning in the period of lockdown, has notified some Digital / e-Learning Platforms.
  • The platform curated by government to provide digital education upto class 12th are-
  • Diksha[6]
  • E-Pathshala[7]
  •  National Repository of Open Educational Resources (NROER)[8]
  • Platform provided by government forHigher Education are[9]
  • Swayam (swayam.gov.in)
  • Swayam Prabha (swayamprabha.gov.in)

CHALLENGES FACED BY GOVERNMENT

In order to break the chain of infection caused by COVID- 19 the Prime Minister has announced 21 day Lockdown throughout the country. Consequently, the functioning of economy and work all over the country in a way has been stopped. Therefore, people of every age be it students, professional, businessman and daily wages laborers have been affected at a large extent. However, the present scenario occurring after lockdown shows that the most affected sector of our society are daily wage workers and laborers who are now unable to earn and feed their families, even do not have place to reside, since their landlords are asking for rent, due to complete shut-down of their work. Consequently, masses of such workers and laborers returning to their villages to get their homes travelling miles on foot only.

In order to control the movement of such migrants and to maintain the norms of social distancing Central Government advised State governments:-

  1. To close the district and state borders so that people do not move across these boundaries during countrywide lockdown
  2. To provide relief such as accommodation and relief camps and for this purpose the states have been directed to use state disaster relief funds.
  3. To ensure all arrangements be made for migrant labourers in their place of work including food, shelter and timely payment of wages.
  4. To close the district and state borders so that people do not move across these boundaries during countrywide lockdown

CONCLUSION

Taking into account the severity of the situation, the Government of India is taking all possible preventive measures to ensure the disease doesn’t conquer India like other countries, such as China, America, Italy, etc. where the situation has gone completely out of control.

Do you believe that Indian Government is taking all the measures to prevent the spread of Coronavirus? If in your opinion, there are any other effective measures, share them with the community by commenting below.


References :-

Image Credit- https://dma.org.uk/uploads/articles/T-rona—government-support.jpg

[1]https://www.rbi.org.in/Scripts/NotificationUser.aspx?Id=11831&Mode=0

[2]https://www.irdai.gov.in/ADMINCMS/cms/whatsNew_Layout.aspx?page=PageNo4057&flag=1

[3]https://consumeraffairs.nic.in/sites/default/files/file-uploads/essential-commodities-order/1087.pdf

[4]https://consumeraffairs.nic.in/sites/default/files/file-uploads/latestnews/Notification21mar2020.pdf

[5]https://mhrd.gov.in/sites/upload_files/mhrd/files/covid-19_0.pdf

[6](https://diksha.gov.in or https://seshagun.gov.in/shagun

[7](http://epathshala.nic.in or http://epathshala.gov.in)

[8](http://nroer.gov.in/welcome)

[9]https://mhrd.gov.in/sites/upload_files/mhrd/files/Covid%2019_0.pdf)

2 Comments

  • Amit verma April 15, 2020 3:47 am

    Informative

  • Priya sharma April 20, 2020 1:07 pm

    Very helpful