Lockdown is not a legal term but it has been framed by the society and government as a situation where there is restriction in movement, only with a single exception that basic necessities should operate. Some law enthusiasts may say that the lockdown is unconstitutional, violating our fundamental right of movement stated under article 19(1), but they tend to forget that as per article 19 (2) the government has the right to put reasonable restrictions on the above stated right. The government also supported the action of the lockdown by the following legislations:
Provisions from the constitution i.e., article 256 and 257 which gave the central government power over the laws implemented by the parliament, it states that the Centre can direct on how to implement the laws, and it can use it in a manner it doesn’t impede the power of the executive. Article 39 (Directive principle Of State policy) which puts a duty on the state to look after the survival and livelihood of its people in the situation.
Section 2, 3, 4 of Epidemics Diseases Act, 1897, S.2 and 2A gives the government power to make rules and regulations to stop the spread of a disease for the welfare of the people and the nation, S.3 states the penalties for disobeying the rules that are made by the government (Under S.2 and 2A).
Section 2(d) of the Disaster Management Act defines a disaster as “A catastrophe, mishap, calamity or grave occurrence in any area, arising from natural or man-made causes, or by accident or negligence which results in substantial loss of life or human suffering or damage to, and destruction of, property, or damage to, or degradation of, environment, and is of such a nature or magnitude as to be beyond the coping capacity of the community of the affected area.” The Ministry of Home Affairs declared the spread of COVID-19 as a “notified disaster” .Section 8 and 9 of Disaster Management Act, 2005 were also followed and accordingly a lockdown was initiated with an official public notification.
Other provisions in the Indian Penal Code, like S.188 which states punishment if one disobeys the order that is passed by the public servant. Section 269 of Indian Penal Code which states “Negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life.” The term of imprisonment can extend up to six months. Section 270 of Indian Penal Code which states “Malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life. The term of imprisonment can extend up to two years.” Section 271 of Indian Penal Code stating “Disobedience to quarantine rule. The term of imprisonment can extend up to six months.” All the above provisions can be invokes so that the cromes specified are not committed
Keeping in mind the situation of Covid-19 and the ways it can spread, S.144 of Criminal Procedural Code was followed, which imposes a curfew on everyone either restricting individuals from moving out of their houses or prohibiting people from going in crowds. The restrictions are usually imposed as per the order that is passed by the magistrate. The provisions stated under the CrPC and IPC are general provisions which have to be followed.
Now, after understanding the legality and validity, a question may arise that why is the lockdown useful, its utility and importance, to answer this there is a theory which was proposed by Jeremy Bentham, he states that we humans give more importance to self happiness and personal gain than anything else, therefore, the thought of the pain that is caused by the virus becomes more important than the thought of restriction on movement. Hence, the lockdown becomes a vital step taken to control the pandemic and to stop the spread of pain caused due to it.
At a conclusion we can understand that the Centre and the government used a combination of all laws as only a mixture of all can lead to a lockdown and this can lead to a relaxation in the current situation prevailing in India. Law is always the same in every case but it reveals its true colors only if it is interpreted and analyzed in the right manner. I believe that “Necessity needs no law”, we have seen many such situations in the past where all these were tackled even when there was no legislation, necessity brings everyone together and make them collectively think for solutions, so even in the present situation the government played an important role in analyzing the laws properly, and this will eventually lead to the welfare and well-being of the nation. Everyone should keep the societal interest in mind in order to gain individual happiness and success.