ENFORCEMENT OF SECTIONS 188, 269 & 270 OF IPC FOR LOCKDOWN VIOLATION
Amidst the COVID 19 crisis, stringent measures have been enforced to maintain social distancing and quarantine effectively. “The lockdown in India, the largest such exercise in the world, to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country”, said Mr. Raghuram Rajan. Effectively organizing a pan-India lockdown is truly a massive exercise and involves a multitude of manpower during which several incidents of lockdown violations have been encountered. Preventing and punishing these individuals is quintessential since their violation entails risk of getting infected, spreading the infection or contamination of surfaces in public places, etc., which hinder the national effort.
Thus, such individuals are punishable under sections 269 & 270 of IPC. These sections are a part of Chapter XIV of the Indian Penal Code– ‘Of Offences Affecting The Public Health, Safety, Convenience, Decency and Morals’
Section 269 - Negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life.
Any person unlawfully or negligently commits any act that is likely to transmit the infection of any life-threatening disease and that he knows or has reason to believe to be, shall be punished with imprisonment of any kind for a period of up to six months, or with fine or both.
Section 270 - Malignant behavior which is likely to transmit life-threatening disease infection.
Someone who malignantly commits any act that is, and that he knows or has reason to believe to be, likely to transmit the infection of any life-threatening disease shall be punished with imprisonment of any kind for a period of up to two years, or with fine, or both.
Section 188 - Disobedience to order duly promulgated by the public servant
It states that refuse to respect and follow a public order issued by an authorized public servant, by a person is punishable with a fine of Rs. 200 and/or imprisonment of 1 month. Also second part of the section states that, if that refusal results in general public suffering, then it is punishable with 6 months of imprisonment and/or fine of Rs. 2000.
The IPC law is further supplemented by the Epidemic Diseases Act. This law of 1897 was first enacted to tackle the outbreak of the bubonic plague in Mumbai in former British India and is frequently applied to the containment of epidemics like cholera, malaria, dengue fever, and swine flu.
In March 2018, the Health Ministry said that failure by clinical establishments to notify a tuberculosis patient to the nodal officer and local public health staff can be punished under Section 269 and 270. While tuberculosis was made a notifiable disease in India in 2012, there was no provision for penal action. With an aim to eradicate tuberculosis (TB) in India, the Centre issued stringent rules. The Union Health Ministry has issued a notification stating that doctors, druggists, chemists, and hospital authorities could face a jail term of six months to two years under the provisions of Sections 269 and 270. Enforcement of these sections assumes pivotal significance in the present scenario of the COVID 19 pandemic and lock-down orders.