Section 144: A Negative Velocity Against Coronavirus

India is suffering from a global pandemic  Coronavirus, which has become a  Period to the lifeline of all the people around the world, Indians are consistently fighting with coronavirus with the help of white coat soldiers who are working day and night for the sake of citizens and those who are affected by this virus, These uncapped heroes are working like the hell to revive the Indian lifeline without caring for their family. Central and state governments are also taking important measures to curb this Covid-19, the government has taken certain important steps like complete Lockdown of the country and quarantine the people who are showing symptoms of COVID -19, many or almost all the states government across India have imposed section 144. Many states including National Capital and Maharashtra, have imposed Sec 144 starting from March 22.

As there is an increasing number of cases of COVID-19 and government decided to impose Section 144 of CrPC so let us find out Section 144 of CrPC. The District Magistrate issued this notification. It bans the assembly of five or more persons in an area. There is also a restriction on carrying any kind of weapon in that area. Individuals can be prosecuted for breaking it, too. Let’s inform you that according to the statute, any member of such “unlawful assembly” can be booked for “revolt.” For such an act the maximum sentence is three years. It is also stated that impeding police from breaking up an unlawful assembly is a criminal offence.

On March 24, Narendra Modi announces complete lockdown for 21 days till 14 April, India shuts it all the business and issue and strict order to stay at home for the world’s 2nd largest population. All the transport system was suspended till lockdown, and when government and doctors are failed to curb this virus till 14 April, Government extended lockdown till 3 May, according to different source cases of coronavirus till 14 April which was going to be the last day of lockdown but unfortunately not because then numbers of COVID-19 are 11154 and after 15 days the number of coronavirus cases in India is 26000+ and many people are not tested yet record shows that if people will not follow the guidelines and does not follow social distancing then India could reach 8 lakh cases till May 15, This virus spread like a fire through human contact actively or passively, The virus is beginning to spread through dense communities and new clusters of infection are being reported every day.

Imposing Section 144 in states was a wise decision made by the state authorities before complete lockdown but as we see specifically many states fail to curb the spread through lockdown because if the government imposes Section 144 way before then I might think that they can control the spreads of the coronavirus. Though lockdown can slow the spread rate of the pandemic, and it is giving time to government and doctors to prepare for it, but it cannot wipe out the COVID-19, When states authorities impose section 144 over the states there are only 400+ cases but now the 31st day of lockdown there are 26000 cases in the country and it is fighting with the virus day and night. This is utmost important argument regarding the imposition of Section 144 throughout the country if the government did not impose the lockdown then I can surely say that we cannot able to revive India and we would be in backfoot today and we are not able to fight against it like the way we are doing now.

Let’s talk about medical and health condition of our country, according to different source through international media and many organization like WHO, etc, the ranking of India in global health index is 141 and countries among toppers are the USA, Italy, and Germany, these countries have world best medical facilities but now they are the main hotspot of the COVID-19, “countries like Italy have seen 11000+ thousand death till now”[1], the medical response system of Germany has been collapsed badly and there are many predictions which state that death toll of the USA will go 1-2 lakh, yes these are countries which have best medical facilities in the world and on the other hand  there is India 140th among medical response few ventilators across the country does not have proper medical equipment like Italy and USA, but there is a major difference that countries like Italy and Spain does not take this pandemic seriously and did not order for lockdown till country gets widely affected by COVID-19 and when they issued for country lockdown it gets out of hand Italy has seen unaccountable death till today, on the other hand, “people in the USA are not taking lockdown seriously and which cause 2,940,943 cases till today”[2] but on the other hand countries like India and New Zealand already analyze the situation and they order the lockdown before it gets worst and this lockdown genuinely help the country to slow down the widespread of this virus which gave adequate time for the countries to prepare itself for the pandemic. This argument stated by me justifies the imposition of Sec 144 across the countries, because if the government did not impose the curfew on us then the virus is spreading like a fire and which could collapse the entire medical mechanism of India, but the lockdown gave time to the government to procure the medical equipment and kits and establish labs across the country to fight against this pandemic. These are my justification regarding the imposition of Section 144 during this pandemic.

Now lets come to the most important sector which is adversely affected by shutdown which economic sector, I agree that it is hurting the economy like a fire in petrol, the financial capital of the country become the biggest hotspot of the coronavirus, “the densely populated city has reported more than 8000 cases till today”[3], though Sena government imposes Section 144 on March 22 they were late to impose because it was spreading like a rumour they have also imposed Section 151 along with Section 144  which help them to prevent spreading little bit and gave them some time, now they made wearing mask compulsory.

The services industry, which generates almost half of India’s GDP, is also likely to remain shut for some more time. Construction, which employs a bulk of migrant workers, will remain similarly suspended. The unemployment rate may have already climbed to more than 20% after the lockdown, according to a report by the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy. For the moment, economists say, “the government will have to prioritize farming over everything else to ensure the livelihoods of millions and secure the country’s future food supplies”[4]. There are some relaxation to the farmers from shutdown they can farm and show in their field according to government guidelines, also the government is providing the facility to store and sell the crop to the government through warehouses, if India lifts the shutdown then it can cause a devasting effect on the economy as there is a complete crash on mode on transport market everywhere which major spread of Coronavirus and this can turn India into another Kalinga ground, though it is hurting the economy India have to bear for sake of its Citizens. Like other affected countries, India will have to prepare itself for what Gabriel Leung, an infectious disease epidemiologist and dean of medicine at the University of Hong Kong, describes as several rounds of “suppress and lift” cycles. During these periods “restrictions are applied and relaxed, applied again and relaxed again, in ways that can keep the pandemic under control but at an acceptable economic and social cost.”

Now I would like to conclude that it is not possible to withdraw Sec 144 until transmission slowed down and our uncapped heroes are able to curb this unseen enemy, lets thank all the people who are directly or indirectly belongs to the fight against Corona and special thanks to our government for taking a robust decision like the imposition  of 144 and 151, shutdown of public transport and transparency in the result of coronavirus. For a country like India having a vast population complete lockdown or imposition of Sec 144 is the only way to slow down the transmission of Coronavirus, So it is clearly justified the imposition Sec 144 during this pandemic. Let hope India wins the fight against Corona.

[1] Statista Research Department, “Coronavirus (COVID-19) deaths in Italy as of April 27, 2020, by age group” (Statista, 28 April 2020) accessed 26 April 2020.

[2] The New York Times, “Coronavirus in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count” The New York Times (United States, 4 March 2020) accessed 26 April 2020.

[3] The Hindu Net Desk, “Coronavirus India lockdown Day 21 updates” The Hindu (India, 14 April 2020) accessed 27 April 2020.

[4] Soutik Biswas, “Coronavirus: Why India cannot afford to lift its lockdown” BBC (India, 9 April 2020) accessed 27 April 2020.

This article is authored by Astik Dubey, Student at Rajiv Gandhi National University Of Law. 

Also Read – Effects of Imposition of section 144 of CrPC, 1973 in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and the Arrest of Prominent Leaders.

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