From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not Much
Mains level : Significance of self-imposed curfew
To enforce a full lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19, law enforcement agencies have taken the help of various legal provisions in CrPC and IPC.
- The orders issued to curb the spread of the coronavirus have been framed under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, which lays down punishment as per Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
- Similarly, Sections 269 and 270 IPC are being invoked against persons who malignantly do any act which is likely to spread the infection of any disease dangerous to life.
Sections 269 and 270 of the IPC
- Sections 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and 270 (malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) come under Chapter XIV of the IPC.
- The chapter is named ‘Of Offences Affecting The Public Health, Safety, Convenience, Decency and Morals’.
- While Section 269 provides for a jail term of six months and/or fine, Section 270 provides for a jail term of two years and/or fine.
- In Section 270, the word ‘malignantly’ indicates a deliberate intention on the part of the accused.
- During the coronavirus outbreak, penal provisions, such as Sections 188, 269 and 270 of the IPC, are being invoked to enforce the lockdown orders in various states.
Earlier instances of invocation
- Both Sections have been used for over a century to punish those disobeying orders issued for containing epidemics.
- The Sections were similarly enforced by colonial authorities during outbreaks of diseases such as smallpox and bubonic plague.
What is Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code?
- Section 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, provides penalties for disobeying any regulation or order made under the Act.
- These are according to Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant).
- It is not necessary that the offender should intend to produce harm, or contemplate his disobedience as likely 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.
What happens if you violate the lockdown orders?
Under Section 188, there two offences:
1) Disobedience to an order lawfully promulgated by a public servant, If such disobedience causes obstruction, annoyance or injury to persons lawfully employed
Punishment: Simple Imprisonment for 1 month or fine of Rs 200 or both
2) If such disobedience causes danger to human life, health or safety, etc.
Punishment: Simple Imprisonment for 6 months or fine of Rs 1000 or both
According to the First Schedule of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), 1973, both offences are cognizable, bailable, and can be tried by any magistrate.
Triable By: Any Magistrate