QUARANTINE AND LAWS IN INDIA | Md Aammar Zaki (Advocate, Calcutta High Court)

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CoronaVirus cases are on rise in India and many are trying to escape Quarantine. Quarantine is defined as the separation of people who may be ill or could be exposed to infection and restrictions and movement it or activities, on large public gatherings, people with travel history to affected areas or on a wider population. The recommended Quarantine period for Covid-19 is 14 days from the time of exposure

In India, disobedience to quarantine rule is punishable under Section 271 of the IPC, 1860 with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine, or with both. Failure to take requisite precautions despite being aware of the possibility of the spread of such infection or disease is punishable under Sections 269 and 270 of the IPC. Under Section 269, whoever unlawfully or negligently does any act which is, and which he knows or has reason to believe to be, likely to spread the infection of any disease dangerous to life, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description up to six months or fine or with both fine and imprisonment. 
Under Section 270,  Whoever malignantly does any act which is, and which he knows or has reason to believe to be, likely to spread the infection of any disease dangerous to life, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both. Malignancy is characterized in diseases that are highly virulent, infectious and life-threatening. Disobeying the norms prescribed for social distancing, coughing or sneezing without covering the nose and mouth, not wearing masks in public, disregarding norms for social isolation, loitering on the streets in groups, socializing in disregard of the prescribed regulations, etc. are all punishable offences under Section 270.  
India has invoked powers under the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897 to control Covid19. As per this law whenever the country or any state or any part of the country or any state are faced with an imminent threat of the spread of any dangerous epidemic disease and the existing provisions of the ordinary law are insufficient to prevent its outbreak or contain its spread then It empowers the Central as well as State Governments to take necessary measures to prevent the outbreak or spread of such epidemic..  
Any person who disobeys any regulation or order passed under this law shall be punishable under Section 188 of the IPC, 1860 with imprisonment for a term ranging from one to six months. For conviction under Section 188, it is not necessary that the offender should intend to produce harm, it is sufficient that he knows of the order which he disobeys, and that his disobedience produces, or is likely to produce, harm. Additionally, States may also issue orders by invoking Section 144 of CrPC, 1973 to restrict public gatherings and impose a curfew. Violation of orders under section 144 CrPC is also punishable under Section 188 of the IPC.
We also have the Disaster Management Act, 2005 that provides for effective management of man-made and natural disasters which may result in substantial loss of life or human suffering. 
These are testing times and we all need to understand the magnitude of the catastrophe that awaits us if we disregard the precautionary measures mandated by the State.

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