The nationwide lockdown was announced by the union government on 24.03.2020. The Supreme Court of India also issued guidelines to adhere to in the lockdown. However, cases of overcrowding have been consistently increasing. In terms of the rise in movement, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued a letter to the Chief Secretaries of all states directing them to circulate the penal actions which would be taken against the violators.
The letter reproduces lockdown measures issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs that stated, “Any person violating these containment measures will be liable to be proceeded against as per the provisions of section 51 to 60 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, besides legal action under sec. 188 of the IPC”. According to the provisions of Sec.51 to 60 of DM Act and Sec.188 of the IPC, a person showing disobedience to the orders passed by a public servant will be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, with or without fine.
The MHA in its latest letter stated that action under relevant provisions of DM Act & IPC shall be taken by the law enforcement authorities on violation of the lockdown measures. The ministry also referred to an observation made by the Supreme Court in the case of Alakh Alok Srivastava vs. Union of India. The Ministry of Home Affairs concluded the letter with, “All concerned viz., state governments, Public authorities, and Citizens of this country will faithfully comply with the directives, advisories and orders issued by Union of India in letter and spirit in the interest of Public Safety”.