JUMPING QUARANTINE – LEGAL ANGLE

INTRODUCTION

COVID-Quarantine

One fine day, via some international flight, a rich guest came to India. So stubborn, not at all reluctant to leave and destroyed the country the most it can. It came with the richer few and made the poorer many suffer.

Currently we are in a situation where every country of the world is in the clutches of a deadly disease whose cure isundetermined. It made hugging loved ones a sin. Sitting close by a problem.Establishing physical contacta sin. COVID-19 or corona virus is a deadly disease whose first case was identified in Wuhan city of China in December 2019. It is a highly contagious disease with initial symptoms like cold or cough or pneumonia but later symptoms being unpredictable. Though the fatality rate is low to 3%, it is deadly for people suffering from hypertension, blood pressure, diabetes, heart ailments or any other chronic disease. It can spread through contact of any kind from one person to another and the worst part is that the symptoms are shown after 10-14 days of infection. Fearfully, a recent study by some doctors from WHO have also suggested that there are evidences of COVID-19 of being air borne. Keeping all this in mind, if we want to prevent the spread of corona then any person who has come in contact with a corona patient should observe quarantine.

In this situation of a pandemic which is highly contagious, it’s important for each and every individual to stay indoors and go out only in cases of urgency. After suffering losses of hundreds of crores and observing lockdown for almost 3 months, the government has decided to very strategically unlock the nation to bring the sinking economy back to track. In such circumstances where people have the liberty to As a responsible citizen, it is our duty to abide by the guidelines provided by the health ministries and experts. The least contribution from our side is that we stay indoors. The government is taking sufficient measures to protect people and help them reach their hometowns. And then providing them with free of cost shelter in quarantine homes so that there is least chance of infection among the people.

If people follow all the guidelines and support the authorities in their actions, half the battle is already fought. But the contrary is being observed. People are going to markets despite the lockdown, continuing their social gatherings and even worse, escaping isolation homes and giving this deadly gift of COVID-19 to others.Quarantine is the state of isolation in which people are made to stay in isolation withoutany social contact so as to curb the spread of communicable disease with which they are infected for fixed time period. That is why people coming from corona hit countries and people coming in contact with corona hit people are kept under isolation and are under medical observation.

However, people are seen escaping screening process at airports, hiding their travel history, not obeying quarantine rules and fleeing from quarantine homes. 

When hundreds of workers and labours are migrating to the states of UP and Bihar, it is a herculean task for the state governments to provide them habitation and isolation homes. In such situations it is expected of the people to co-operate and support the authorities, however people and exhibiting a completely resenting behaviour. The other day, some over 70 migrants from different states ran from the quarantine homes in Nawada district of Bihar, alleging improper sanitation and lack of food supply.

Some local news channels broadcasted the news along with the pictures showing men and women fleeing from the centres with their belongings

DANGERS ASSOCIATED WITH JUMPING QUARANTINE

Staying away from family, at a place with so many problems, under the fear of being infected with a deadly virus is definitely not an easy task. There has been scarcity of food and drinking water in quarantine homes. There has been improper sanitisation.There has been ill treatment meted out to migrants but still it becomes mandatory for all for us to not jump quarantine and stay in the isolation homes cooperating with the staff over there. Our one step of jumping quarantine is a huge threat to us as well as the society.

  1. This is the only way to protect further spread of COVID-19. 

     

    People all around the world are observing complete lockdown. The entire global economy has taken a pause and the only reason is that covid-19 is highly contagious and painful. With no vaccine yet developed, it is even more dangerous for country like India with poor medical facilities and 50% people lacking the knowledge of hygiene and sanitation. Considering all this, it is important for every person, who is suspected to be infected or who has travelled from infected cities or who has come in direct or indirect contact with the infected person, to observe complete isolation for at least 14 days. For this purpose, the government has vacated many govt hospitals and sanitised govt schools and converted them to isolation homes. Though there are many problems in such homes but nothing is worse than a painful death. Staying in isolation homes will prevent the spread of COVID-19 from the person to their families and society at large.

  2. It is our moral and legal duty.

     

    We are a part of welfare society. And therefore, it is our moral duty to prevent others from any kinds of infectionwith which we are infected. Hence being a member of this social web, we need to fulfil our responsibilities and abide by the protocols and guidelines issued by the government. We need to stay indoors and observe lockdown and from those who are kept in isolation homes it is specially expected to stay there peacefully, without troubling the staff and cooperate with them.

    Apart from being our social responsibility, it is also are legal duty to not jump quarantine and follow all the norms and regulations. There are provisions in section 269, 270, 271 of IPC which make, disobedience to quarantine rules, a punishable offence.

LEGAL SANCTIONS AGAINST JUMPING QUARANTINE

Quarantine is considered as one of the oldest mechanism to prevent the spread of any bacterial infections or viral onslaughts. It has been legally sanctioned by all the jurisdictions of the world and are no infringement to the personal liberty of an individual. In fact it was forcefully imposed to prevent further spread of disease and to prevent the uninfected people. The centre for disease control and prevention has recently added acute respiratory syndrome, that may take the shape of a pandemic, to the existing list of diseases which include – cholera, yellow fever, plague etc.

The term Quarantine was first used in 1377 when the plague was ruining European nations. It was type of a medical detention that lasted for 40 days on ships. Commonly, quarantine and isolation are used interchangeably but are a little different. Quarantine is imposed on a person who has been exposed to an infectious disease but not yet ill. Whereas isolation is complete separation of one person from others known to be infected with the disease.

India has been under lockdown since last week of march 2020, and hence into a de facto quarantine. It has been announced that legal actions will be taken against those who violate the quarantine laws.

In India, disobedience to quarantine is a punishable offence under section 271 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 with an imprisonment of a term which may extend to 6 months or fine or both. Also under section 269 of the same act, if a person, unlawfully or negligently does any act, which is likely to spread infection of any disease dangerous to life, shall be imprisoned with a term of 6 months or fine or both.Under section 270 of the same act, if any person malignantly does act, which he knows is likely to spread infection of a deadly disease, shall be punished with an imprisonment of 2 years or fine or both. Disobeying the norms, not wearing masks, sneezing without covering the mouth, socializing in disregard of the regulations are all punishable offences under section 270 of IPC. All these laws are backed by section 188 of IPC, 1860 under which any person who violates any regulation issued under this law is punishable with imprisonment for a term ranging from 1 to 6 months. For conviction under section 188, it is not necessary that the person should intend to procure harm. the mere knowledge that his actions are likely to produce harm, is sufficient.

The disaster management act, 2005 provides for effective measurements of man made or natural disasters. The Epidemic Disease Act, 1897 protects the authorities from being prosecuted for their actions done in good faith during health emergencies, for the implementation of this act.

There are strict regulations which bind us all to not break quarantine regulations.  And therefore being the responsible citizens of the nation we must assist our government during this crisis.

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS

Quarantine laws are very subjective in nature. It is very much possible that so many people might have disobeyed laws for some genuine reasons. Also, understanding that so many people are illiterate and do not understand the gravity of their actions, government has been very lenient in playing legal cards with the masses. Though there have been instances where action has been taken against the law-breakersin Uttarakhand and many other states, and quite expectedly, this was also done to common people as the influential few were easily able to escape from the back door. The scenario is more or less the same. Not everyone is punished but not everybody is able to escape either.

CRITICAL ANALYSIS

With the thorough study of quarantine laws, its pretty evident that we have sufficient legal reasons to not jump quarantine. Also, if the situation from last month is well analysed, its observed that despite there being laws, they have not been observed. There is no news of any person breaking the quarantine law, being punished. The government needs to implement these laws strictly and if the need arises maybe introduce more stringent laws so that there is a deterrence in the number of people breaking the quarantine regulations. The situation is out of hand and the government need to wake up now. It needs to take strict actions against all those people who disobey quarantine so that others fear in breaking laws according to their convenience. Also, it is important for government to take steps to provide food and healthy habitation to people who are not able to afford it, so that they do now have to take law into their hands. Also, facilities and the behaviour of the staff at isolation ward has to be improved as it has been the major reason for maximum people to jump quarantine.

CONCLUSION

Corona is very dangerous for all of us. It has ruined the super powers. If it spreads in India, the situation will not be controlled at any cost since we do not have very good health facilities. Therefore, staying home is the best way to stay safe. At the end of this article, we have two conclusions.

  1. People need to be more responsible of their actions and think of the harm that they are causing to a large number of people. We need to co-operate with the government, support it in this time of pandemic. Only then we can achieve victory over it and life can run back to normal.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
  2. Government needs to adopt a two-way policy. One side it has to be strict in implementing laws and punish all those who break laws or jump isolation. While on the other hand, it has to be the guardian of the poor and down trodden. It has to take special care that every migrant gets food to eat and a roof to sleep. There is sufficient in our contingency funds and people have donated enough. It’s a high time to use it now!