COVID 19: Your Legal Rights in Quarantine
Updated: Jan 14
COVID-19 is an infectious disease which is caused by a new type of virus that has emerged. It causes respiratory problems which include symptoms like cough, fever and may cause difficulty in breathing in severe cases ("Virus Taxonomy: 2018b Release, March 2019). A person will be able to protect himself from the virus by washing their hands frequently, avoid touching their face and preventing contact with affected persons ("ICTV Taxonomy history: Orthocoronavirinae, 2020-01-24.).
Limits of quarantine:
Due to the widespread impact of Covid19 throughout the world, governments are forced to impose travel bans resulting in thousands of people are legally asked to self-quarantine themselves. Quarantine here means a state in which people who have been exposed to the deadly virus are segregated or isolated from the general public. People with mild symptoms are asked to stay at home and follow social distancing norms. However, people in the low- income group cannot afford to stay back home and nor it is possible for them to follow social distancing.
Laws related to quarantine in India:
On 22nd March 2020, our Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared a lockdown to control the numbers of infected people with COVID. The authorities in India were also taking steps to prevent the massive outbreak of the virus from which Italy was suffering ("India blocks out Europe, Turkey", 17 March 2020.). In absence of above steps, India would have suffered in the worst possible because of the large number of clustered slums which are considered as the breeding grounds of epidemics (U.S. Embassy in Honduras, March 26, 2020).
As Coronavirus is considered to be a very contagious disease which spreads through contact with the affected, people having international travel history were kept under observation. However, people in numerous instances were trying to escape from the screenings at the airports and refuse to disclose their actual travel history to the authorities (spread, 2020.) harming the safety of their families, friends and their countrymen. Therefore, It is in order to prevent the above following actions was made punishable under law:-
Any person who breaches the quarantine rule can be punished under Section 271 of IPC 1860 with imprisonment of six months or fine or both.
If a person aware of him/here being infected with Covid-19 yet intentionally spreads such disease can be is punished under Section 269 and 270 of the Indian penal code 1860.
If the public fails to follow these rules can be punished under Section 188 of IPC.
The States were also given permission to impose Section 144 of Cr.P.C 1973 restricting the public gatherings and for imposing of curfews (week", 2020).
Can a person be quarantined by the government?
Yes, governments can quarantine a person. Every state enacted its own laws regarding quarantine and isolation of the infected people. The State governments can even detain such the persons who are considered a threat to the public under their duty to prevent the spreading of COVID. The government also had the power of closing all the schools, colleges, and all the public events in order to protect its citizens (THE CONVERSATION, 2020). If a person is diagnosed COVID 19 positive then there right to move freely can be curtailed and the government can justify such curtailment on the ground of preventing the spread of disease. (THE CONVERSATION, 2020).
"Virus Taxonomy: 2018b Release. (March 2019). International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses .
spread, ". s. (2020., March 12). AlJazeera. Retrieved from AlJazeera: www.aljazeera.com
 ( 2020-01-24.). "ICTV Taxonomy history: Orthocoronavirinae. International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV).
 "India blocks out Europe, Turkey". (17 March 2020.). Hindustan Times.
 U.S. Embassy in Honduras. (March 26, 2020). "COVID-19 Information.
week", ". I. (2020, March 03). Gulf News. Retrieved from GulfNews: gulfnews.com
 Times, T. E. ( 12 March 2020). Coronavirus a pandemic. "Coronavirus a pandemic: India shuts doors for outsiders, under self imposed quarantine".
THE CONVERSATION. (2020, March 19). Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-quarantines-and-your-legal-rights-4-questions-answered-132740
The New England Journal of Medicine. (2020, April 9). Retrieved from https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp2004211
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Varun Vikas Srivastav is currently a 3rd year and 6th sem student, studying in Bba.Llb(H) course at Amity Law School, Noida.
Editor: Jayant Upadhyay
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