Legal Aspects of Coronavirus pandemic

Updated: Aug 15, 2020

Author:- Anurag Mahipal & Soumya Goel

BBA LLB 2nd Year Bharti Vidyapeeth New Law College, Pune

The WHO (World Health Organisation) declared on March 11, 2020, that the outbreak of the disease Covid19 was first identified in Wuhan, China and then it was spread globally and is now a global pandemic. The WHO called up the meetings of the governments and obligated them to take measures to control the spread of the dangerous virus.

Fake news and Covid19

The world is fighting with this killing virus and also with the misinformation. Due to Corona virus spread people are forced to stay at home. However, the quarantine drags the population towards the social networking. People are sharing videos and posting stuffs which sometimes are absolutely false and the viewers perception thus change about the same. Social platforms help people connect during this quarantine period and make the productive use of internet services. But this is completely a different factor for people who are acting as criminals and spreading false news in the public. Rumours are dangerous weapons that cause panic and tension among the public and thus countries have law as the existing force to stop or take legal actions on such people who does the same. Unfortunately, India does not have specific laws which deals with the menace of fake new but we have provisions under Section 505(1) of IPC. According to Section 505(1) of Indian Penal Code, 1860 the punishment for making, publishing, or circulating any statement, rumour or report which may cause fear or alarm to the public, or to any particular section of the public.

Punishment: Imprisonment which may extend to 3 years or fine or both.

Section 54 of Disaster Management Act, 2005: Whoever circulates the false alarm or waning as to disaster or its magnitude, leading to panic.

Punishment: Imprisonment which may extend to one year or with fine.

Section 66D of Information Technology Act, 2005: Whoever, by means for any communication device or computer resource cheats by personating.

Punishment: Imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to one lakh rupees.

Now if the government finds anyone spreading fake news or fraudulent content on social media are put behind the bars or will face lethal legal actions. In terms of making efforts the government in many states took action regarding the same.

Maharashtra police has filed over 51 cases and counting against people who are making rumours and spreading false information or making irrelevant statements regarding the same. The police. One mattress company was making fraudulent claims that their mattress can prevent corona virus were put into legal actions. The FIR was registered against the company owner.

In Uttar Pradesh a Godman named Ahmad Siddiqui was arrested as he was making false statements that those who could not wear mask could use the talisman to keep the corona away. He was arrested with the charges of forgery and fraud.

In Odisha a man was arrested for putting false information on Facebook regarding a Kerala returned person who has been tested positive of covid19 and was under treatment.

Actions by the police and legal bodies and authorities are lethal but for public welfare. People staying at home and spending their time in productive activities with the help of social media is good but unknowingly or knowingly spreading false news regarding the same can cause panic amongst the public and thus can create a bad situation for the workers at lines. Any kind of panic due to false information can cause devastating effects on people. Existing provisions are primarily known to the citizens so that they do not involve in these related legal actions by creating or making false statements or making fraudulent claims.

Quarantine is tough but tougher for those who are working day and night for us. Thus, if someone wants to help those workers, just do not fall in trap of these criminals and think and decide what one can do. And if you really want to aware people then spread information through messages, videos, or any other social means which is proven and sure.

Quarantine and the Law

It was by Chief Justice John Marshall in the U.S Preeminent Court in 1824 certified the forces of the state to impose isolation laws and guidelines regarding wellbeing. Globally many crisis were spread back then and isolation was the major force of action. Isolation is treated as the seasoned instrument which helped in spreading various life taking infections. Thus, from then isolation and prohibition on movement or transport were came into action.

‘Trentino’ to quarantine

Law on clinical detachment was passed by the Great Council in 1377, when the plague was demolishing European nations. It was advocated as culpable offence. Accordingly, the law says the separation of 30 days called Trentino. Many countries came together with the laws to ensure the citizens. When the separation period was extended to 40 days the name changed from Trentino to quarantine. It was taken by a Latin word Quadraginta, which alluded to a 40 days confinement set on ships.

In India, the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897 empowers the state to take special measures, including the inspection of the passengers and other special steps to prevent spreading the virus. It was amended in 1956 to confer powers among the central government to state the regulations or impose restrictions in India or any part of the nation to prevent the hazardous diseases. Quarantine is not an alien concept but it is a seasoned instrument which helped back then in the prevention of spreading various diseases like Cholera, smallpox, plague etc.

Justification of imposing Article 144 in various parts of the country

Nations seriously hit by COVID-19, for example, Italy, Germany, China, and the US are getting ready to the best degree conceivable. While they may not depend on building 10 new medical clinics in about fourteen days like China, flood limit is being assessed, facilitated inside their medicinal services framework combined with a few confinement strategies and requests.Also, in India, the fundamental worries for the administration and its authorities would rotate around the wellbeing and security of all residents camouflaged as a representative, client. On these lines, Deputy Commissioner of Police Pranay Ashok forced Section 144 over theGreater Mumbai district. Segment 144 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) forces capacity to official justice to limit specific or a gathering of people living in a specific region while visiting a specific spotor zone. This move was executed to forestall a peril to human life wellbeing and security and to eventually hinder the spread of COVID-19. The episode of novel coronavirus otherwise known asCOVID-19 was the purpose behind such risk to human life saw by the Magistrate. This request made disarray among the overall population who accepted this to be a burden of Section 144 of IndianPenal Code (IPC) relating to Unlawful Assembly. The equivalent was later explained by the MumbaiPolice that the request was explicit in nature, pertinent and not the general population as a rule. This was done so travel bunches including household or outside nationals in the territory might be reduced. The inquiry that presently waits around is whether the burden of Section144 is the need of great importance in the midst of this emergency. We should realize that Section144 is there to discard dire instances of annoyance or caught risk by an able officer so engaged to make such move. Despite the fact that in India the quantity of revealed cases is still low contrasted with different countries over the globe, one can disregard the mischief previously brought about by the coronavirus because of it’s fast development rate and the possibility to additionally bother the situation.

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