Lockdown and Implications
‘Lockdown’ is defined in Merriam-Webster as:
1. the confinement of prisoners to their cells for all or most of the day as a temporary security measure
2. an emergency measure or condition in which people are temporarily prevented from entering or leaving a restricted area or building (such as a school) during a threat of danger.
In view of the need to contain the spread of Covid-19 the Government has decided to impose complete lockdown under The Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 and The Disaster Management Act, 2005 across states where novel corona virus cases have been reported so far.
The Government of India in a direction statement released by the Press Information Bureau has directed States to make people adhere to strict lockdown.[i]
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued notification[i]for State Governments to adhere:
a. State Governments will issue orders allowing only ‘essential services’ to operate in districts with confirmed COVID-19 cases. The focus will be on closure of all activities except essential services such as hospitals, telecom, medicine shops, provision stores etc.
*The Essential Services Maintenance Act, 1968 provides for the maintenance of certain essential services and the normal life of the community.
b. Establishments engaged in manufacturing and distribution of ‘essential commodities’ like medicines, vaccines, sanitizers, masks, medical devices, their ancillaries and support services etc., shall be exempt from these restrictions.
*The Essential Commodities Act, 1955 provided in the interest of the general public, for the control of the production, supply and distribution of, and trade and commerce, in certain commodities.
c. All train services and metro rail services shall be suspended including sub urban rail services.Goods trains may continue to operate for facilitating availability of essential commodities.Transport services may operate at mere skeletal level.
d. States to request industries, establishments etc., to allow their employees to work from home and provide remuneration to them during this period. Labour Ministry and Ministry of Corporate Affairs has issued necessary instructions to this effect.
The State Government in exercise of powers the under Epidemic Disease Act 1897 can if it thinks that the ordinary provisions of the law for the time being in force are insufficient may 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. [i]
[i]Section 2 of the Epidemic Disease Act 1897
Any person who disobeys any order made under the Act may be charged with an offense under Section 188 of
[i]Section 3 of the Epidemic Disease Act 1897
[ii]Chapter X Sections 51-60 of The Disaster Management Act, 2005
IPC under Section 269 prescribes imprisonment for 6 months or fine or both to anyone who negligently does any act likely to spread infection. Section 270 prescribes punishment for anyone committing a malignant Act that is likely to spread infection with imprisonment up to 2 years or fine or both. Section 271 states if a person knowingly disobeys quarantine rule the person shall face imprisonment for 6 months or fine or both.
States have local laws to punish violators. For instance –In Karnataka offenders can be booked under Chapter XVIII of Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act, 1976. Section 42 of The Karnataka State Police Act, 1963 also provides for special measures to prevent outbreak of an epidemic.
Certain key Impacts of Lockdown on the Apex Court, MCA, NCT:
The MCA has relaxed the rules for board meetings and dispensed with the necessity of holding physical meetings up to June 30. Further spending of money for Covid-19 shall be considered an eligible CSR Activity.
The MCA has declared that companies to file web-based CAR for confirming their readiness towards Covid-19.
NCLT benches to remain closed till 31st March, 2020.
Supreme court forbids physical entry, video conferencing as mode of hearing and ordered sealing of lawyer’s chambers.
Supreme Court in Writ Petition (Civil) No (s). 3/2020 dated 23rd March, 2020 has dealt with Extension of limitation: To obviate difficulties caused by Coronavirus in filing petitions/ applications/ suits/ appeals/ all other proceedings within the period of limitation prescribed under the general law of limitation or under Special Laws, it is ordered that the period of limitation in such proceedings, irrespective of the limitation prescribed under the general law or Special Laws, whether condonable or not, shall stand extended w.e.f. 15th March 2020 till further order/s to be passed.