News Excerpt
The government has declared a three-week nationwide lockdown starting 25th March, explaining that it was the only way of breaking the Covid-19 infection cycle. Social distancing is the only way to break the cycle of infection.

•    China locked down its Wuhan and most of the surrounding Hubei provinces in early days of this year to prevent the spread of the COVID-19.
•    No journeys were allowed in or out of the city, even for those with compelling medical or humanitarian reasons.
•    Nearly two months later, the daily number of new cases in China down to single digits. Wuhan is starting to emerge from two months of isolation, and this approach has become the model for other countries with outbreaks that appear to be sliding out of control.
•    The similar step has been taken by a number of countries like Italy, France etc. in other part of world to break the chain of corona virus.

Lock Down
    A lockdown is an emergency protocol that prevents people from leaving a given area. A full lockdown will mean you must stay where you are and not exit or enter a building or the given area.
    This scenario usually allows for essential supplies, grocery stores, pharmacies and banks to continue to serve the people. All non-essential activities remain shut for the entire period.

    The Prime Minister announced a nation-wide lockdown, from March 25, 2020 to April 14, 2020.
    The announcement came in the backdrop of the Covid-19 outbreak and is intended to enable the concept of “social distancing” to contain the spread of the virus.
    Various states invoked the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, to pass orders and guidelines on social distancing measures, closure of establishments and limitation on activity.
    The Ministry of Home Affairs invoked Section 6 (2)(i) of the Disaster Management Act (DMA), 2005 directing the ministries or departments of Government of India, state and union territory governments and authorities to implement the measures laid down in the central order. The measures restrict residents’ movement outside of their homes and orders a closure of all offices, factories and shops, except those considered as essential goods and services.
    Any person violating these containment measures will be liable to be proceeded against as per the provisions of Section 51 to 60 of the DMA, 2005, besides legal action under Section 188 of the IPC.

    Constitutionally, the state government is empowered to deal with matters related to public order and public health, listed in the state list Entry 1 and 6, respectively.
    The Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, empowers a state government to prescribe temporary regulations to be observed by the public or any person to prevent the outbreak and spread of a disease.
    However, Entry 29 of the Concurrent List empowers both the central and state governments to legislate on matters pertaining to the prevention of an infectious or contagious disease spreading from one state to another.
    Article 245 of the Constitution and the ‘Doctrine of Repugnancy’ states that where the provisions of a Central Act and a State Act in the Concurrent List are fully inconsistent and are absolutely irreconcilable, the Central Act will prevail and the State Act will become void in view of the repugnancy.
    While the scheme of the DMA, 2005 does not specifically deal with the control of a pandemic like Covid-19, the powers of the National Disaster Management Authority under Section 6 of the Act can be broadly interpreted to give a unified command to the central government to effectively manage a disaster throughout India.
    The Covid-19 outbreak can be classified as a disaster under the DMA, 2005, allowing the central government wide powers to deal with the pandemic by laying down policies, plans and guidelines for disaster management to ensure a timely and effective response to the disaster.
    Section 38 of the DMA casts a duty on the states to follow the directions of NDMA. Moreover, Section 72 provides that the provisions of the Act, will have an overriding effect on all other laws, to the extent that they are inconsistent.
    Given the highly communicable nature of the disease and the large population of India, it seems logical for the central government to address the concern under Entry 29 in a unified manner, as opposed to state governments implementing measures not coherent with one another.
    Declaring National emergency under Article 352 was legally not permissible as post the 44th Amendment, such an emergency can be declared only if the security of India or any part thereof is threatened by war or external aggression or armed rebellion only.

Way Forward
    India, being the highly and densely populated nation, is under the great threat due to spread of virus.
    The lock down is a desperate step by the government to stop the virus from spreading in India. Breaking the chain of COVID-19 is the only way out.
    Amid looming fears of coronavirus infection entering the community transmission stage, India needs to boost its overall health infrastructure by initiating measures like designating dedicated hospitals for affected patients in states, ramping up procurement of ventilators and mobilising resources of Railways and armed forces to deal with tougher challenges ahead.
    The Government need to ensure the availability of essential items during the lock down so as to reduce the possibility of any chaos in the public and making the lock down a success. There is a need of special care of daily wagers and labourers.

Section 144 of CrPC
Itauthorises the Executive Magistrate of any state or territory to issue an order to prohibit the assembly of four or more people in an area. According to the law, every member of such 'unlawful assembly' can be booked for engaging in rioting.
Under this, there shall be no movement of public and all educational institutions shall also remain closed and there will be a complete bar on holding any kind of public meetings or rallies during the period of operation of this order.

National Emergency, Section 140 of IPC, National Disaster management Act, Section 188 of IPC, Epidemic disease Act 1897