With the outbreak of covid 19, the Indian government is trying everything they can to get rid of the deadly CoronaVirus As this pandemic affects the entire world within a span of a few days. WHO has also declared the Covid 19 , famously known as noble CoronaVirus “Global Pandemic” as an air borne disease and has rapid contagious characteristics. Various method has been adapted by the government ranging from 14 hour Janata curfew on Sunday 22nd March 2020 to nation wide lockdown of 21 days. The lockdown method seems to be one of the most effective methods adopted by the government across the world in the view of preventing further spread of the deadly noble coronavirus. As Covid 19 spread world wide the government has imposed quarantine and travel restrictions upon the people.
What is a pandemic?
A pandemic is defined as the “worldwide spread of a new disease.”
When a new disease first emerges, most of us lack the natural immunity to fight it off. This can cause a sudden, sometimes rapid, spread of the disease between people, across communities, and around the world. Without a natural immunity to fight off an illness, many people can become sick as it spreads.The WHO is responsible for announcing the emergence of a new pandemic based on how the spread of the disease fits into the following 6 phasesTrusted Source:
Phase 1. Viruses circulating among animal populations haven’t been shown to transmit to human beings. They’re not considered a threat and there’s little risk of a pandemic.
Phase 2. A new animal virus circulating among animal populations has been shown to transmit to human beings. This new virus is considered a threat and signals the potential risk of a pandemic.
Phase 3. The animal virus has caused disease in a small cluster of human beings through animal to human transmission. However, human to human transmission is too low to cause community outbreaks. This means that the virus places humans at risk but is unlikely to cause a pandemic.
Phase 4. There has been human-to-human transmission of the new virus in considerable enough numbers to lead to community outbreaks. This kind of transmission among humans signals a high risk of a pandemic developing.
Phase 5. There has been transmission of the new virus in at least two countries within the WHO regionTrusted Source. Even though only two countries have been affected by the new virus at this point, a global pandemic is inevitable.
Phase 6. There has been transmission of the new virus in at least one additional country within the WHO region. This is known as the pandemic phase and signals that a global pandemic is currently occurring.
Origin of the word ‘QUARANTINE’
The word QUARANTINE originated from the Latin word ‘Quaranta giorni' meaning of which according to Cambridge dictionary is a person or animal that might have a disease is kept away from other people or animals in order to prevent the further spread of the same. It is often used in preventing movement of those who may have been exposed to communicable disease.
Since the biblical times the concept of quarantine has been reorganized and is known to have been implemented in different eras throughout history. In modern history , notable quarantine includes that of the village of Eyan in 1665 during the outbreak of bubonic plague in England. East Samoa during 1918 flu pandemic. The outbreak of diphtheria during the 1925 serum run to Nome. The 1972 outbreak of yugoslav smallpox and extensive quarantine applied throughout the world during the Covid 19 pandemic since 2020.
Control measures by the government to curb Covid 19 in the form of QUARANTINE/ ISOLATION:-
Government has imposed quarantine and travel restrictions on an unparalleled scale as the deadly noble corona virus spread world wide. India as a whole nation comes under complete shutdown, eventually thousands of individuals were subjected to legally imposed quarantine of self quarantine .The government has also restricted residents from entering or leaving the state and screening travellers returning from heavily affected coronavirus hotspot nevertheless the number of death and daily new infected corona cases continue to rise at rapid speed.
Quarantine and travel restrictions were one of the spontaneous reactions against new infectious disease. However these methods are of limited utility against the heavily infected virus. In India
laws on quarantine refer to both types of intervention such as isolation along with being travel restrictions. Isolation and quarantine order generally comes from the state , the Court only upheld the order for broad power of the state for the protection of public health.
Government has provided toll free numbers to inform the officials if one registers even mild symptoms of coronavirus. Not only the medical team but also police officials were always on their toes in reaching out to the people who were in need. Various state governments have also imposed limited and reasonable restrictions on market and essential commodities. Medical and grocery shops remain open for the public for a limited time period, under the necessary precautionary measure such as maintaining social distancing, regular washing of hands and wearing masks. Patients were sent to isolation/ quarantine centres for 14 days, during this period these patients were kept under the eyes of medical experts, who provided them with regular and required treatments. Government also started the promotion of precautionary measures such as social distancing , regular washing of hands and wearing masks, through various mediums such as television and local newspapers in order to caution the general public about their health safety. Government has also launched ‘Aarogya setu app' which helps to locate the corona infected patients if one is provided with the true information about their health.
With the direction of Hon'ble Prime a high level group of ministers meeting has been constituted to review , monitor and evaluate the measures taken to curb the further spread of this deadly virus. State government of Bihar has introduced ‘ Bihar epidemic regulation 2020’ it empowers the government to forcibly quarantine any suspected person, conducting mass screening of suspects and sealing the boundaries of the affected areas etc.
QUARANTINE Laws and legislations in India:-
Both centre and state government have the power to legislate on this very subject matter as guaranteed by the Indian constitution. Legal methods that are used to tackle the current pandemic situation and public health disaster arising out in the whole country interpreted from these very legislations.
• The Constitution of India
• Indian penal code, 1860
• The Epidemic Act, 1897
• National health bill, 2009
THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA:- The fundamental rights listed under part III and DPSP part IV of the Indian constitution provides for the right to health and public health care. Under article 47 of the Constitution which lies under DPSP says that the state is obliged under this very article to increase the quality of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health in
in order to fulfil the purpose of the right to health care.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the case of ‘State of Panjab v. Moninder singh' 1997 SC 1225 had observed that right to health is integral to right to life under article 21 of the Indian
constitution. However the fundamental freedom guaranteed under article 19 of the Constitution can be affected by the very measure Quarantine, but this can be very well defended by the legal maxim 'Sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas' which means restrictions vis a vis enjoyment of the fundamental rights to the extent it effects another’s enjoyment of life , property, and well being. Right to privacy also used to contradict the terms of quarantine but this should also kept in mind
That right to privacy is an acquired right as stated by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in various decisions.
INDIAN PENAL CODE, 1860 :- In India the violation of the rules and regulations of quarantine is punishable under section 271 IPC which is punishable with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 6 months or with fine or both. Under section 269 and 270 IPC failure to take necessary precautions while being aware of the risk of the spread of such an infection or disease is punishable. Disobeying the norms prescribed for social distancing, coughing or sneezing without covering the nose and mouth, not bearing a mask at public places, disregarding norms for social isolation are all punishable under section 270 IPC.
THE EPIDEMIC ACT, 1897:- This act is 124 year old legislation with only four clauses that enable the state to inspect the individuals travelling by train, ship, (air was not an option at the time of passing of the act) ,air travellers and to segregate suspects in hospitals temporary accommodation or otherwise impose self quarantine measure. Section 2 of the act is relevant because it requires special steps to be taken by the state and the central government and provides rules for the general public to help in preventing the spread of disease. Section 3 of the act prescribes a penalty for disobeying any regulation along with section 188 IPC exception for the individual doing in good faith.
NATIONAL HEALTH BILL, 2019 :- This bill provides the citizen a legal context for providing essential public health services and empower the corporation of the centre as well as state government for satisfactory response to every individual emergencies. It mention the duty of government towards the public health, however this very legislation lacks in its ethical framework for the protection of the rights of human i.e human rights during epidemic
Can the Government impose Quarantine on anybody?
Yes, the government can impose quarantine on anyone even against one's will. If the person even has mild symptoms of any deadly disease that can spread through air (air borne disease) government can impose quarantine measure upon him as to prevent further spread of that disease by isolating that person
QUARANTINE laws in India comparison with other Nations:-
Quarantine laws in India are even mild in comparison with other foreign nations. Such as North Korea where military laws were imposed in order to enforce quarantine measures in the wake of Covid 19. It was reported in print media that an official returning from China was shot dead after violation of quarantine guidelines by using public baths.
In the US as per the Centre for Disease control and prevention CDC the power of quarantine derived from police power which were guaranteed broadly to the state countries and cities to protect public health. The laws vary from state to state. In 1824 US Supreme Court threw a landmark case ‘gibbons v. Ogden' 22 US 1824 reorganised quarantine power are unlimited state based power.
Talking About the British laws related to quarantine measures, the parliament of England added the Health Protection Regulation (Coronavirus), 2020. Section 45R of Public Health (Control of Disease) Act, 1984 which gives power to the police and immigration officers to detain people who were subjected to even mild symptoms of Covid 19, And send them to the quarantine centre. It also empowers the police personnel to impose a fine of €100 upon the violation of the term of quarantine.
Canada imposes mandatory self isolation to the travellers who have entered to their home country or all those who have entered the country of Canada. These returning travellers will not be allowed to take any of the public transport such as subways or trains etc.
Quarantine laws are silent on the issue of mandatory home based quarantine during the outbreak of such deadly disease like Covid 19. Other collateral laws were also hard to reach to the conclusion. When the imposition of quarantine laws isn’t done properly it ends up in the contagion of many health Falk’s, then the magnitude of liability is going to be larger on that very government. There is no clear transparency on what degree of quarantine measure can the government put in the effect in epidemic Crisis. There must be guidelines for the protection of individual civil rights during the quarantine. The associated laws and legislation are to the extent controversial as quarantine as a practice has adopted from old concepts. Various reports come into the limelight about the disgracing of suspect and fellow individuals who were placed in quarantine centre and many corona infected patients in the hospital were subjected to the discrimination by hospital staff.
In India there is no proper working medical tribunal to address an issue arising out of any health calamity. In these types of pandemic situations many more creative tools of laws are required to deal with the subject matter of quarantine. Apart from the legal interpretation of the word quarantine it also attacks the psychological side of every human who has undergone this method. There also exists the violation of the right to privacy of the individuals who were subjected to quarantine centre by publishing their names in social and print media.
A systematic legislative structure for disease preparedness and response, instead of the existing fragmented response framework through programmes and missions, is needed to require the use of such procedural best practices in the future.
This is required to increase the government's accountability to its individuals. It is imperative that the union government pass such a law while providing state authority to use their public health framework.
5. Indian express.com
6. Disaster management act 2005.
8.The Indian constitution 1950.
9. Indian penal code 1860.
10. The epidemic act 1869
BALLB honour-2nd year
Dr Hari Singh Gaur central university Sagar Madhya Pradesh.