Analysis: UN report ‘Shared Responsibility, Global Solidarity’

Reading time: 8-10 minutes.

COVID-19 has already surpassed about 2 million cases worldwide with hundreds of thousands of deaths reported so far. This outbreak has forced the countries across the globe to observe complete lockdown. People are living under quarantine. Apart from impacting the daily lives of people, the world is seeing dire economic and social impacts.

The United Nations (UN) launched a new report titled ‘Shared Responsibility, Global Solidarity: Responding to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19’ on 31st March 2020. This report calls for united efforts at a global scale to counter the adverse socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. It addresses the multidimensional concerns arising out of the current crisis. It entreats everyone to come together and act in a unified manner.

How and when did this report come into being?

The International Monetary Fund has announced that the world has entered a recession as bad, if not worse, as the one in 2009. It is a unique and unprecedented situation. The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called COVID-19 the worst crisis since World War II. He has further said its economic impact will contribute to “enhanced instability, economic unrest, and conflict”.

This crisis is not only a health crisis but a human crisis that has multifaceted long-term consequences. This has been by far the greatest challenge faced by the world since the formation of the UN. Thus, it requires a coordinated effort to overcome its many social and economic repercussions.

 The efforts made towards dealing with the crisis must match the scale at which it prevails. No country can win this battle on its own. The Shared Responsibility report thus comes as a unified call for action. It seeks immediate response to put an end to the pandemic and its effects.

Its aims and objectives

The main objective of the report is to facilitate action through expedient health responses and urgent measures to address the socio-economic impacts. It appeals for an increased focus on the vulnerable nations as well as groups of people. Women, children, youth, elderly, people with disabilities, low-wage workers, small and medium enterprises, the informal sector are always the worst hit during a crisis. Working on the notion that we are as strong as the weakest health system, this report aims for collective action. It provides for a three-step roadmap.

First, it aims for setting up a robust healthcare system. The health system must be competent to tackle the pandemic and respond to the needs right away. It involves worldwide collaboration. An increase in investment in the healthcare sector is essential. The universal demands of necessary equipment, facilities, and supplies must be met. The main focus is to suppress transmission and put an end to the pandemic by coordination and by adherence to the appeals of WHO.

Second, it aims for the mitigation of the negative impacts on society and the economy. This would involve provisions for support to households, workers and businesses, monetary and fiscal responses to prevent loss to the economy, and social protection. The report calls for a coordinated response where about 10 percent of the global GDP is brought to use to fight off the pandemic.

Third, it highlights the importance of learning from this crisis. Prior global targets such as the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement have not yet been met. The impact the world is facing today would have been less severe if those goals were achieved. Thus, the report calls this to be a learning opportunity. This crisis should teach us to enhance efforts towards achieving said global targets. In this manner, we would emerge stronger and more prepared to deal with future crises.

The objective of recommendations provided in this report is to empower nations and encourage them to act.

The report declares that the UN and its subsidiary agencies will offer full support to achieve these objectives. It underlines the need for maintaining a sense of global coordination and solidarity. The world needs to fight this battle together.

Salient features

Some of the most prominent takeaways from this report are summed up as follows:

  • Decisive and pro-active action is specified as a measure to decrease the spread and bring an end to COVID-19. The report recommends early preparations in countries with no cases. Speedy testing and detection of cases, quarantine measures, school closures, and isolation measures must be set up.
  • The report highlights the importance of global collaboration. Immediate support to poor and vulnerable countries must be provided. The availability, development, production, and distribution of laboratory testing kits, essential medical supplies, new drugs, and vaccines must be scaled up.
  • It discourages countries from resorting to protectionist measures. Instead, they are being encouraged to ensure the free flow of scientific research and technological innovations. The report specifies that it is only with a common vision that the world can tackle this pandemic.
  • The COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund is one of its kinds launched by the UN, WHO and the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation. It is for providing financial support for health workers on the frontlines as well as for advancing research. The report urges for contribution to the same.
  • To tackle the economic crisis caused by COVID-19, the report recommends the implementation of a large-scale coordinated global fiscal stimulus. This stimulus package must amount to at least a percentage in double-digits of global GDP. Such a fiscal stimulus will boost the economy in the long run. It is also recommended on a national scale.
  • The report calls for explicit measures to boost the economy of developing countries. It asks for debt relief and concessional finance. This would help the domestic economics of these vulnerable countries to revive.
  • It further seeks waiver of sanctions, tariffs and non-tariff measures to ensure free access to food, medicines and other essential supplies.
  • Major central banks and international financial institutions can play a crucial role in fighting off the present impacts and aid in recovery. Coordination between these big players can boost liquidity.
  • The report recommends coordination with the private financial sector at the regional level. This can aid in recovery. Regional companies must be roped in.
  • It does not fail to mention the vulnerable groups that need protection more than the others. The report thus calls for a “human rights-based approach”. Proper availability of information in a manner that can be understood by the people is the need of this hour.
  • It is crucial to have a humanitarian outlook. Women and girls must find a place in the response. Apart from them, the elderly, people with disabilities, daily wage laborers, migrants, prisoners among others need protection. Thus, the protection of human rights and a focus on inclusion is crucial at this time.
  • The international community must come together to aid governments to support education. Governments can then provide distance and digital educational services.
  • The short-term effects of the crisis have been positive for the environment at least. But, these are only short-lived. The situation will revert after lockdown unless countries focus on them. The report recommends the strengthening of approaches towards climate action and NDCs.
  • To reduce the overall impact of this crisis, the report recommends partnerships between local and national authorities for global research and innovation. The report highlights the importance of community-based organizations (CBOs), Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs), civil society organizations and youth networks in raising awareness and improving social cohesion.
  • The report also points out that we will overcome this crisis. And when we do, we must be mindful and remember all that was learned during our fight with the pandemic. This knowledge must be used to rebuild a world better than before.

Critical analysis

‘Shared responsibility, Global Solidarity’–as the phrase suggests, is a call for worldwide collaboration. It calls the whole world to come together and stand united against this crisis. It asks everyone to share the responsibility to combat it effectively. The report provides a holistic analysis of the current magnitude of the crisis, the degree of its spread and how it is impacting the lives of the people all around the globe.

The report accurately highlights the importance of united global efforts by stating that “the world is only as strong as the weakest health system.” The world is interrelated and integrated, both socially and economically. Hence, if every country only focuses upon itself there would be no end to this crisis. The weakest and the most vulnerable countries need the most help. It is only by helping those that the evasion of this crisis is possible. The report calls for a global ceasefire to direct the focus of conflict-affected countries towards COVID-19.

The report displays a ‘people-centered approach’. It focuses on all the people who would be inevitably affected as a result of this crisis. It advocates for respecting human rights, ensuring social inclusion and engagement while maintaining equality and dignity.

It also lays down some recommendations to empower countries and propel partners into urgent action. These recommendations are structured into three tiers – global, regional and national. Not only does the report lay down the immediate measures that everyone should be undertaking at global, national and regional levels but also lays down measures for post-recovery.

The report does not restrict itself to the social and economic dimensions but also incorporates other major global concerns. For example, it addresses the sustainable development implications associated with this crisis. It reminds us that the world has not been prioritizing sustainable development efforts. And that this lack of effort and initiative will cost us a lot. It would lead to grave impacts. Had we focus on attaining Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals, the world would have been better prepared. There would have been stronger economies, better health care systems, and resilient societies.

Nonetheless, the report is imbued with a positive outlook on the future. Despite all, the crisis would strengthen economic and social cooperation throughout the globe. The report focuses on the importance of learning from the crisis and incorporating those lessons in our future actions. As the report states, we know what is to be done. It has been laid down in the roadmap for 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals. By adequate investment in the same, our society would be further strengthened for any future ordeals.


UN through its Shared Responsibility, Global Solidarity Report is displaying an agile response towards the management of this global crisis. It has promised to deliver help by setting up of COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund and facilitating requisite efforts all across the world. This report acts as a reminder of the need for unified efforts to eliminate the adversities of COVID-19.

As stated by Antonio Guterres, “This human crisis demands coordinated, decisive, inclusive and innovative policy action from the world’s leading economies – and maximum financial and technical support for the poorest and most vulnerable people and countries.” Thus, the situation calls for worldwide collaboration. It is the collective effort of humans that can protect and help other humans.

Limiting oneself within the border of one’s nation will not prove fruitful to anyone. It is high time that everyone joins hands and executes concrete efforts to put an end to this pandemic sustainably, equitably and resiliently. This is the only way that we would be able to restore society and economy into an improved version of itself.

Author: Avani Laad  from Symbiosis Law School, Pune.

Editor: Shalu Bhati  from Campus Law Centre, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi.


Small saving schemes in India

Reading time: 8-10 minutes.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has left the economy struggling. The Union government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) are trying to deal with the situation. The government recently announced a cut in the interest rates of small saving schemes. This came a few days after the RBI lowered the Repo Rate (Rate at which the RBI lends money to the banks). These measures are an attempt to withstand the hit on the economy brought about by the pandemic. The aim has been to increase the flow of money in the economy.

With the lowering of repo rate and reverse repo rate, the interest rates for small savings schemes were also cut. These rates are generally calculated and changed quarterly using basis points. The interest rates for various small savings schemes saw a cut between 70 bps and 140 bps. These will remain in force for the quarter of April to June 2020.

The following changes have been brought in:

Name of the InstrumentOld RateNew Rate
1,2- & 3-years’ time deposit6.95.5
5 years’ time deposit7.76.7
5 years’ recurring deposit7.25.8
Senior Citizens Savings Scheme8.67.4
Monthly Income Account7.66.6
National Savings Scheme7.96.8
Public Provident Fund7.97.1
Kisan Vikas Patra7.66.9
Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana8.47.6

This was the first time that interest rates were lowered since the quarter of July 2019. These recent cuts are at a record low. For instance, the interest rate of 7.1% on Public Provident Funds (PPF) is the lowest offered in the last 43 years.

Significance of this development

The outbreak of COVID-19 has forced the nations across the globe to go under a complete lockdown. This has affected the world economy and there is a prediction of a global recession. The world will be facing a severe cash crunch.

India has been under a complete lockdown for the past three weeks which has now been extended till 3rd May 2020. About 80% of the industries are facing a money crunch. The demand for goods other than fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG’s) and pharma have taken a hit. The Central government along with RBI has introduced various measures such as extending dates for payment of interest on loans, payment of Income Tax and providing monetary benefits to the poor among others. In such trying times, it is important to maintain a cash flow in the economy. A decrease in the repo rate encourages banks to lend more money to consumers. As a consequence, cash flow increases gradually.

Further, a cut in the interest rates of the small savings scheme will discourage people from saving. This can lead to more spending thereby increasing the cash flow. It will also close the gap between bank rates and small savings rates.

The consumption cycle of the country has been dwindling for quite some time. Coupled with the present situation, it becomes essential to sustain the economy. According to the latest data, household savings in India accounts only for 30.1% of the GDP at present. In the current situation of lowered interest rates and a fall in savings, India’s macro-economic position has weakened. It is a slippery slope and thus, the government must tread with care.

What are small savings schemes?

‘Post office savings bank’ is an entry in the Union List under the Seventh Schedule. The savings movement existed in India even before Independence. After Independence, the government took the initiative to promote the concept further. The savings movement was first recognized in 1948. It was then that the government established the National Savings Organisation. The concept of “small savings” was introduced through various legislations such as the Public Provident Fund Act 1968, Savings Certificate Act, 1959, etc.

 The National Small Savings Fund was created in 1999 to manage the deposits of the small savings schemes. It created a fund independent of the Consolidated Fund. It is a Public Account of the budget and thus does not have a direct impact on India’s fiscal deficit.

Small Savings schemes are instruments with government backing. They are well managed through post offices, public sector banks as well as private sector banks. These are instruments introduced to develop a healthy habit of savings amongst the large population of India on a long-term basis. The rates on these instruments are revised quarterly.

These schemes were introduced despite existing Recurring Deposits and Financial Deposits facility in banks. The motive behind such a step was to include a major chunk of the population in the savings movement especially those with small earnings. The sheer variety of schemes is enough to encourage more and more people to invest. An amount of as low as that of Rs. 500 can be invested. Apart from this, the comparatively higher and fixed deposit rates make these schemes more favorable to the masses.

Small savings schemes available in India

The small savings schemes in India can be broadly divided into three categories:

A. Post Office Saving Schemes

Post offices have played a major role in providing various small investment options. Following are the major saving schemes provided by the post offices:

  • Post office savings account

The post office savings account is similar to the savings account facility provided by banks. This account can be opened with a minimum amount of Rs. 500. The interest earned through this account is tax-free to a limit of Rs. 10,000. Facilities such as cheque, ATM, nomination, transfer of account, etc. are also available.

  • National savings recurring deposit account

This account is opened with a minimum amount of Rs. 100 and requires a deposit of as low as Rs. 10 per month for its maintenance. This is encouraging for a huge chunk of the population to save and invest. This scheme matures after 5 years and can be extended further. This is a long term investment.

  • National savings time deposit account

The duration of time deposit accounts can vary from a year to five years. The minimum amount necessary for opening this account is Rs. 1000. Multiples of Rs. 100 can be deposited. There is no maximum retaining limit. The five-year term deposit under this scheme falls under the benefits as provided under section 80C of the Income Tax Act, 1961.

  • National savings monthly income scheme

This monthly scheme is unique and is offered only by the post office. It provides for fixed monthly investment. The maturity period for this scheme is five years. The interest is earned every month by the account holder. In case it is not claimed, the unclaimed interest will not earn additional interest.

B. Savings Certificates

The certificate schemes have been successful in encouraging people to invest and save small funds for the long term.

  • Kisan Vikas Patra (KVP)

The Kisan Vikas Patra was introduced in the year 1988. Its target population was based in rural and semi-urban areas. It was discontinued in 2011 after allegations of money laundering. but it was relaunched in 2014 with certain changes. one such change was the maturity period that was now 118 months (9 years and 10 months). KVP can be bought at any post office and can also be transferred from one post office to another.

  • National Savings Certificate

An investment in this scheme counts as a benefit under section 80C of the Income Tax Act, 1961. Backed by the government, this scheme comes with a promise of fixed returns.  The National Savings Certificate can also be transferred from one person to another bu only once.

C. Social Security Schemes

Social Security Schemes have always formed an important part of the economic measures by the government. Various social security schemes have been introduced that have met the needs of the target population.

  • Public Provident Fund (PPF)

PPF was first introduced in the year 1968. An account can be opened either in a post office or an authorized bank. The fund matures in 15 years. From then on, it becomes eligible for an extension of five years within a year of maturity. The deposits made into the account is eligible for tax concession under section 80C of the Income Tax Act. It is an optional scheme which is also one of the most popular.

  • Sukanya Samridhi Yojana

Various schemes were introduced by the Government under the umbrella of the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign. Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana was one such scheme introduced in the year 2015. The target population for this scheme was girl children below 10 years of age. The scheme matures after 21 years of opening the account and can be closed. It can also be closed before the 21 year maturity period if the girl child gets married.

  • Senior Citizens Savings Scheme

Senior Citizens Savings Scheme is open to the population aged 60 years and above. This account can also be opened by those who are of 55 years but less than 60 years and have taken voluntary retirement. It matures in 5 years and can be opened in post offices and authorized banks.

Critical analysis

The main agenda behind introducing small savings schemes was to encourage the masses to be a part of the savings movement. Even if the contributions were small, these schemes presented a viable long term investment option. The small savings schemes have always operated mainly through post offices, followed by public sector banks. The government chose to implement these schemes through post offices. This was because post offices have a wider reach and they can are found even in the smallest of villages or tehsils.  These schemes promoted “geographical penetration” i.e. the savings fund comprised of investments made by people across the country.

There are a variety of schemes available in the market today. Each scheme has its benefits. These schemes provide a fixed and assured return. There are fewer formalities and no hassle. Minimum balance requirements are also easy to maintain. The interest rates are also higher than those provided through a traditional savings bank account. This keeps the small savings schemes at loggerheads with banks. There is a huge gap between their respective rates. It can mean a struggle on the banks’ part.

The small savings schemes have been constantly reviewed. A few of the recommendations arising out of the various reports have been implemented as well. For instance, the establishment of the National Savings Fund was one such recommendation. Though small savings schemes are important, they need some serious changes.

The Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission was set up to review the country’s existing financial system. it submitted its report in March 2013. This Commission made the following recommendations about small savings schemes:

  • Need for a consolidated law

The Commission considered numerous laws that were in place for managing the small savings scheme. It recommended that a consolidated law was a need of the hour. The government proposed such consolidation in 2018. But no such law has been introduced yet.

  • Independent entity

The Commission recommended that all the functions associated with the management and regulation of the small savings schemes must come under an independent entity. This independent entity would be under the purview of the financial regulator.

  • Government-backed even after the transfer

These small savings schemes need modernization. even when they are transferred to an independent entity, it must be specified that these schemes come with a government guarantee.

  • Protecting the consumer

The target customers of the small savings schemes are small savers. the Commission recommended that measures must be put in place to protect them. The new law must contain provisions offering investor protection, compensation mechanisms, and a better grievance redressal mechanism.

A cut in the interest rates of the small savings scheme is not new. A cut is usually made to balance the general interest rates prevailing in the economy.  This is to ensure that the small savings schemes do not pose a competition to facilities and services provided by banks. The interest rates are also calculated based on government securities and their yield. Though there are various benefits attached to the schemes, it has to be constantly restructured by creating a framework.

The latest cuts in interest rates are however a new experience. The rates are at a historic low. These are the times of a pandemic outbreak and the measures to stop its spread have brought the economy to a standstill. Our economy is dwindling. Recession is almost certain. It was in this backdrop that the government announced a cut in the repo rate followed by a cut in interest rates of small savings schemes.

This measure might seem effective but it does not promise long term relief. It will discourage people from saving and might encourage spending but the possibility is not so high. The people feel the uncertainty of these trying times and instead of spending, they would hold onto their savings for rainy days.

On the other hand, there would be fewer funds available for investment. It might increase the cash flow now but it would negatively impact the economy in the long term.


Ever since independence, the Indian government has been a proponent of savings. It has constantly promoted this concept through various schemes and measures. The introduction to such schemes was to encourage everyone to invest. The small savings schemes mobilized funds across the country. Banking through Post Office played a significant role in India’s savings movements to date. This way savings reached the whole nation through Post Offices with minimal formalities.

Many committees have given recommendations in the past for improving the system to make it smooth and efficient. If these recommendations are implemented, it would generate a change in the volume of funds. The recent cut in the interest rates is due to the stagnant state of the economy. There was a need to increase the flow of money. When the economy shows a slow and gradual return to normalcy, measures should be introduced to revise the interest rates upwards to encourage people to invest in the schemes.

Author: Harinie.S  from Symbiosis Law School Hyderabad.

Editor: Shalu Bhati  from Campus Law Centre, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi.

Dealing with COVID-19: The triple-T method

Reading time: 8-10 minutes.

The number of Covid-19 cases has already crossed the benchmark of ten thousand cases in India and the situation is becoming worse and worse but Rajasthan, one of the states where initial Covid-19 patients were found, is doing exceptionally well in handling the situation. The Bhilwara model, one of the cities in Rajasthan, is garnering applauds throughout the world. The once called Italy of India, due to large number of Covid-19 cases, it has seen no new case since March 31, 2020.

The credit of this success in these testing times goes to the Bhilwara administration for proactively following the Triple-T method i.e. Testing, Tracing and Treatment. Strict adherence to the lockdown and social distancing guidelines and screening of more than 92% of the population of the district is the key. The same model is now being followed throughout the Rajasthan, where more than 50 million people have now been tested, to contain Covid-19 cases in the state. Also, the state has kept almost one lakh beds ready for quarantine in case the need arises. Government has also granted superannuation to the due medical staff till September, 2020. Many private sector hospitals are coming forward to help the government by lending their medical staff, equipment and beds.  In short, Rajasthan is ready to fight the corona battle through Testing, Tracing and Treatment.

What is the method?

Originally, the triple-T method was the South Korean government’s policy to deal with COVID-19 which is now being applied by other countries as well because it has been proved as one of the most successful strategies hitherto. In India, Rajasthan was the first state which declared the triple-T method mandatory and resultantly, curbed the COVID-19 cases to a certain extent. The question of curiosity is what does this 3T implies. So, basically, ‘3T or triple-T’ stands for ‘Testing, Tracing and Treatment’. This technique enables the identification of the COVID-19 confirmed cases by testing, then finds the people who come in contact with the confirmed patients of COVID-19 by tracing and further provides them with the required treatment as soon as possible.   

Critical analysis

In the context of India, the triple-T is expounded and critically analyzed as follows:

  1. The first T stands for ‘Testing’. According to this, the corona test is the foremost step as it allows us to identify the positive cases of COVID-19. Now, the problem arises when it comes to the testing of 135 crores people which is the most difficult task. Since India doesn’t have advanced health care services like the other developed nations have, it becomes even tougher to conduct the testing of such a huge population. Also, the speed of testing is low which is why many cases have not been identified yet.
  2. The second T stands for ‘Tracing’. After testing the confirmed cases, the next essential step is to find the people who have met or come in contact with the COVID-19 positive patients. Moreover, this tracing has to be done within a reasonable time span to prevent the further transmission of the virus. Some people are avoiding the test, some are absconding from it, some are intentionally hiding the information regarding their contacts with the positive patients and many people are not cooperating with the government and deny getting tested. On one hand, these are very serious concerns which the government must take into consideration for better results. On the other hand, such unexpected acts seem to be very stupid and illogical because people do not understand the gravity of COVID-19 and end up risking their lives and blaming the government. So, finding no other option in such difficult times, the government has to entertain all these issues taking strict decisions in this regard. If these people are not traced on time it may lead to rapid multiplication of infected cases which will worsen the situation in India.
  3. The third T stands for ‘Treatment’. As soon as the people are tested for corona virus and the reports are positive, such infected people must be provided with adequate treatment for their recovery without any delay. The rest whose results are negative must not be sent back to their homes; rather they should be kept in proper isolation for some time as they are most vulnerable to the infection. It is pertinent to mention here that as of now, there is no cure of COVID-19. Therefore, proper treatment as prescribed by the doctors is the sole option.

Although, India has appreciated the ‘triple-T’ method of South Korea yet, it has not completely implemented it across the whole country. Some states like Rajasthan and Delhi have implemented this technique which has proven to be successful to a certain extent. The Bhilwara city of Rajasthan was one of the epicentres of the COVID-19 cases but with the execution of 3T policy accompanied by the Corona virus Contamination Programme and complete lockdown, the number of cases has been reduced and the situation is not as critical as it was earlier. Similarly, the Delhi government has also chalked out the ‘5T’ plan which incorporates random tests of people in hotspot areas. 

Its pros and cons


Containment of virus: The biggest advantage of continuous and ruthless Testing, Tracing and Treatment is prevention of spread of covid-19. The most successful example of this method in containing the spread of this deadly virus is Bhilwara model where most of the population was tested and screened for corona virus via home testing or laboratory facilities; the diagnosed patients were traced down to look for any potential infected patients and then they were treated by roping in various private and government facilities. They also acquired many hotels and resorts for quarantine facilities, in case the needs arises.

Early detection of virus: As it is known that symptoms of Covid-19 patient can take up to 14 days to show, this method usually tends to solve the issue. As all the potentially infected people are tracked down via the already diagnosed patients, they are then screened and tested for any possible infection. This rules out the possibility that a person who has been infected, but does not show any symptoms yet, can go on to infect others with the virus and thus can be very helpful in curbing the spread of the virus.

Better treatment of the patients: As more and more people are already tested and diagnosed even before showing the actual symptoms, it is easier to cure the patients. Also, the number of equipment and medical personnel can be pre-determined in case of community transfer of virus. This way government and the medical team can analyze the situation and determine their strategy to fight off the virus beforehand.


Huge employment of resources: The Triple-T demand huge financial as well as human resources to actually work. In these times, where businesses are mostly doomed and recession is bound to creep in the economy, it is very difficult for the government to arrange so much capital which is required in testing and treatment of Covid-19 patients. Also, a lot of skilled and unskilled human resources, like medical personnel; police; administration; and sanitation workers, are needed for the successful implementation of this plan.

Exposure of medical personnel to virus: As our medical personnel are mostly working around these patients and that too without proper medical gear, they are most likely to be affected by the virus. Everyday some doctor or chemist is tested positive for Coronavirus. This not only cost us some precious lives, but it also makes containment of the virus difficult due to fear of wider spread of the virus.

Fear of community spread: As medical personnel who treat the patients; the sanitation workers who are exposed to a lot of waste; administration that conducts tracing and testing; and the police that maintains discipline in the times of quarantine, are most likely to be affected by this deadly virus. They are the people who are not only exposed to this virus, but they also come in frequent contact with the normal masses in course of performing their functions. This can also translate into community outbreak of the virus and can further worsen the situation. In a recent case, a canteen worker of a hospital in Jaipur was tested positive, due to which thousands of people were exposed to this virus and almost 26,000 people were tested for any possible transmission of the virus.

Other methods of dealing with COVID-19

  1. Lockdown: Everyone across India is witnessing the lockdown since the past few weeks. Even though this method is not an enduring solution to the COVID-19 crisis, yet, it has proven to be a good initiative in controlling the expeditious proliferation of the infection. The quick decision of complete lockdown which was taken by the central government is appreciated worldwide. This method has its own gains and losses. India has not waited for positive case numbers to rise to take the decision of lockdown rather when a few cases were detected in India, the lockdown was imposed due to which the situation is still in the hands. The countries which have not imposed a complete lockdown on time have suffered and are still suffering a lot of destruction. India has set up an example in front of the world by prioritizing the lives of the people above all. But, this isn’t the ultimate solution to the problem. The government must invest this lockdown time in prospecting the ways to gradually lift up the lockdown and to decide the post-lockdown strategies.
  • Rapid Testing: It is widely acknowledged that mass testing is the only formula to solve the problem of COVID-19 and India is nowhere in the game. In a country with such a large population, there is a greater probability of overnight multiplication of the infected cases. Therefore, to reduce this probability, rapid testing plays a very significant role followed by a proper quarantine. Lockdown cannot vanquish the corona virus, it can just halt it for a while and as soon as we will come out, the virus will attack again. On the contrary, expeditious mass testing, starting from lower-level like villages and districts, is the only weapon to defeat corona virus. At present, India neither has a rapid testing rate nor rapid testing kits. The government should put more emphasis on rapid mass testing and arrange rapid testing kits and other necessary medication as per the requirement. 
  • 5T Plan: This method is very much similar to the ‘triple-T’ policy which was formulated by the Delhi Government when there was a sudden increment in the number of positive cases of COVID-19 in Delhi due to Tablighi Markaz gathering. This method constitutes 5 T’s which stands for ‘Testing’, ‘Tracing’, ‘Treatment’, ‘Teamwork’ and ‘Tracking’. The first three Ts denote the same concepts as given in the ‘triple-T or 3T’ method. However, two more Ts are added in this plan which are elucidated as follows:
    • The fourth T stands for ‘Teamwork’. There is a saying that no war can be won alone and so applies in the war against COVID-19. A team is required which has proper plans and strategies accompanied by ways of its implementation with proper equipment. In the battle against COVID-19, all the governments whether opposition or ruling party and people act as a team. The doctors, nurses and the police force are the indispensable part of this team. Without them, this battle cannot be won.
    • The fifth T stands for ‘Tracking and Monitoring’. This is the last stage of the plan which includes the monitoring and tracking of all the earlier 4T’s. This is more like supervision on the working of the ‘Testing’, ‘Tracing’, ‘Treatment’ and ‘Teamwork’.
  • Regular sanitization and disinfection of hotspot areas: Covid-19 hotspots are the areas where there are many covid-19 cases at the present and also have the potential for wider spread. These areas have to be regularly disinfected and sanitized to kill the entire existing virus in these areas if any. This attempts to rule out any possibility of potential spread of the virus.


It can be concluded that the ‘triple-T or 3T’ method which stands for testing, tracing and treatment is a very efficacious policy to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. Like the other methods, this method possesses its own merits and demerits. As far as its applicability in India is concerned, Rajasthan has already declared this technique mandatory in its territory which has given a satisfactory outcome. Indirectly, this method is already in practice in India but not with some specified name. With a gigantic population and paucity in advanced medical technology, it is strenuous for India to nationwide implement the ‘triple-T method’ altogether.

Apart from triple-T policy, there are several other ways to combat COVID-19 pandemic like lockdown, mass testing and 5T plan. The central and the state governments are trying their damnedest to curb this infection at the earliest. We, as the law abiding citizens of India, must comprehend the seriousness of the COVID-19 contagion and fulfill our duties towards the nation, fellow countrymen and mankind by cooperating with the governments in every possible way.

Authors: Divyani Saldi from RGNUL, Patiala, Punjab and Neha Gururani from School of Law, Maharaja Agrasen Institute of Management Studies, GGSIPU, Delhi.

Editor: Arya Mittal from Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur.

Explained: Disaster Management Act (DM Act)

Reading time: 8-10 minutes.

Life on Earth is at the ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as sudden global nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus or other dangers we have not yet thought of.

                                                                                                                     ~ Stephen Hawking

The people of India are going through a complete lockdown for 21 days started on 24th March 2020, in bid to stop the spread of coronavirus, that has claimed over 11,00,000 lives across the world so far and has been declared a global pandemic in nature by the World Health Organization (WHO). This lockdown has brought everything to halt in India except the essential services.

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose and no vaccination has been invented yet and thus, the most effective solution to control the spread is social distancing, as it is communicable and the symptoms may take around two weeks before they are clearly visible. Given the large demography of India, it was only wise to put a lockdown in the early stage of the pandemic.

The Union Home Ministry said that in an order under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 to declare 21 days countrywide lockdown to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 pandemic. Directions are issued that district and state orders should be effectively sealed. The states are directed to ensure there is no movement of people across cities or on highways. Only the movement of goods should be allowed and that, district magistrates and police superintendents would be personally responsible for the implementation of these directions.

Also, all offices of the Government of India and State Governments, and their autonomous bodies and corporations shall remain closed, except those dealing in defense, treasury, public utilities (including petroleum, CNG, LPG), disaster management, power generation, post office, national informatics center, water, sanitation, police, home guards, prisons, etc. Hospitals, medical establishments, clinics, dispensaries, laborites, and allied services will also remain functional.

There is no country that is totally impervious from any catastrophe. However, the magnitude of such catastrophes may vary. Therefore, various nations take measures to prevent a disaster and also to recuperate if such a disaster occurs. Disaster management can be referred to as the planning, organizing, and management of the resources in order to curb the calamity and lessen the impact of the disaster by responsibly acting on it.

Therefore, the need for management of disaster was realized by the State and The Disaster Management Act was enacted by the Parliament in the Fifty-sixth Year of the Republic of India on 26th December 2005. It was enacted as the central Act to deal with disaster management. Principally it provides for the effective management of disasters and for matters connected therewith or incidents thereto. This act foresees three categories of Disaster Management structure in India at National, States and District levels.

Significance of this development

As this disease is a contagious disease the major steps to be taken to curb the effect of it is to stop the infection and for that, it is advised by the WHO that ‘social distancing’ shall be maintained which will, in turn, lead to decrease the spread through sneezing or coughing. Social distancing here means that two persons must maintain a distance of at least 3 meters between them so that the infection does not spread.

In lieu of the guidelines of the World Health Organisation, the Government of India has imposed a nationwide lockdown and it also passed an order to seal the state and district borders to stop the exodus of migrant workers. This was an important step as the coronavirus has been deemed to be a pandemic and the cases in the country crossed the 5000 mark.

These steps were taken by the Central Government in conformation to the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005. Section 35 of the Act states that the Central Government shall take all such measures as it deems necessary for the purpose of disaster management. It also states that the Centre must ensure that the state governments are also working towards the same goal.

Salient features of the DM Act

The Disaster Management Act was enacted in India on 26th December 2005 by an act of Parliament. The Act was enacted to provide for the potent management of disasters or matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

The following are the features of the Disaster Management Act, 2005:-

  • Disaster Management Act, 2005 comprises 79 sections and 11 chapters.
  • The Act covers all aspects of disaster management i.e., planning, avoidance, mitigation, response, and resurgence.
  • This Act was the first statute that defined the term ‘disaster’ and ‘disaster management’ in its whole sense under Section 2(d) and Section 2(e) respectively.
  • It provides an institutional structure for monitoring and implementation of policy for which the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) was established.
  • All the roles and responsibilities at all levels of government, starting from the Central Government right up to Panchayat and Urban Local body level is the matrix format.
  • The Act follows the regional approach; therefore, it will be beneficial not only for disaster management but also for developmental planning.
  • NDMA and SDMA perform their function to prepare for the disaster and lessen the menace at their respective levels.
  • District Disaster Management Authority is also established under this Act to work effectively at the district level.
  • As per the provisions of this Act, financial mechanisms like Disaster Response Fund and Disaster Mitigation Fund shall be created at the national, state and district level to reduce the severity of the loss incurred due to the catastrophe.
  • The developer of this Act also emphasized preparing communities to cope with disasters, so it also stresses on a greater need for information, education and communication activities.
  • It also focuses on vital affairs such as early warning, information dissemination, medical care, fuel, transportation, research and rescue, evacuation, etc. to examine, whether the agencies are active.
  • The provisions of this Act also prescribe the penalties to be imposed on any person in case of an offense (as provided in the statute) being committed by him.

The abovementioned features of the Act make it an exemplary statute that helps in the prevention of the disaster by readily preparing for it beforehand and also in successfully recovering from a disaster. The Act ensures that necessary steps are taken by various factions of the government for the prevention and reduction of disasters.

Its relevance W.R.T. COVID-19

On 24th March 2020, The Ministry of Home Affairs invoked Section 6(2)(i) of the Disaster Management Act and directed the ministries or departments of the Government of India, state and union territory governments and authorities to implement the measures laid down in the central order. Section 10 of NDMA authorizes the central authority to issue guidelines and directions to several state government with respect to addressing disasters.

Section 10(2)(1) of the Act allows the National Executive Committee to give directions to governments regarding measures to be taken by them. The Union home secretary, who is the chairman of the National Executive Committee, delegated power to the Union health secretary in this regard.

The offenses and penalties are provided in Section 51 to Section 60 of the Act.

Under the provisions of this Act, any person who refuses to comply with the directions of the Central Government shall be liable to imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine, or with both, according to Section 51 of the Act.

According to Section 53 of the Act, whoever misappropriates or appropriates for his own use the money or materials provided for disaster relief, shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to a term of two years or with fine, or with both.

According to Section 54 of the Act, any person who makes or circulates a false alarm or warning as to disaster or its severity or magnitude, leading to a panic shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or fine, or with both.

Earlier in March, the ‘misgiving’ of information on ‘chicken as a carrier of Coronavirus’ on social media, cost the poultry industry an estimated loss of Rs 1.6 billion per day, according to the reports of the All India Poultry Breeders’ Association. Despite the clarification by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), not only did the culling of chicken continue but also played havoc in the lives of chicken breeders, traders and allied sectors.

Recently a PIL was been filed by Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla IAS in a similar regard that deliberate fake news can cause panic in the society. Therefore, the Centre said that the creation of panic is an offense under the Act and an ‘appropriate direction from the top court would “protect the country from any potential and inevitable consequence resulting from a false alarm having the potential of creating panic in a section of the society’.

The central government has sought a direction from the Supreme Court that no media outlet should print, publish or telecast anything on COVID -19 without first ascertaining facts from the mechanism provided by the government. But if a person or channel does so then they’ll be charged under Section 67 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 which states the direction to media for communication of warnings, etc.

These are the major provisions of the Act which came into effect after the lockdown was imposed in the country. Many other provisions were also in effect which were deemed to be necessary for the containment of the corona virus disease.


The Disaster Management Act, 2005 has thus played an important role in a fight with the highly contagious novel COVID-19 or commonly known as coronavirus. It was passed to enable the central government to provide a legal framework for setting up a National Disaster Management Authority under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister of India.

While the tactic of the Act does not specifically allocate the control of a pandemic like COVID-19, the powers of the NDMA under Section 6 of the Act can broadly be expounded to give a unified command to the central government to effectively manage a disaster throughout India by making it mandatory for the government to take all such necessary measures which will help curb the disease.

Under the DMA, 2005, the COVID-19 outbreak is needed to be listed as a disaster, allowing broad powers of the central government to deal with the pandemic by setting policies, strategies and guidelines for disaster management to ensure timely and efficient response. Section 38 of the DMA imposes on the states the obligation to obey NDMA’s directions.

To conclude, whenever there is a catastrophe, mishap, calamity or grave occurrence in any area, an emergent measure such as Disaster Management Act in the current situation, needs to be taken for the interest of a larger public even at the cost of some inconvenience.

Authors: Dhanesh Desai from Amity Law School, Noida and Pragya Narang from The Northcap University,Gurugram.

Editor: Arya Mittal from Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur.


Reading time: 8-10 minutes.

COVID-19 has breathed life into the antiquated laws of India. One such law is the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA), 1968. It is an act to provide for the maintenance of certain essential services and the normal life of the community. It empowers the government to prevent disruption in essential services such as transportation (by land, water or air), electricity supply, police, defence, operation of petrol pumps. It is used to contain strikes that may hit an essential service thereby causing public hardship.

About the act

The act first came into existence in 1952 by replacing the Ordinance XI of 1941. Later, it was repealed. ESMA, 1968 (59 of 1968) came into force on December 28, 1968 replacing the Ordinance of 1968. It extends to the whole of India including the newly declared union territory of Jammu and Kashmir after the revocation of Article 370 in August, 2019. It is a central law made by the Parliament of India; however discretion on the execution of it mostly lies with the state governments. 

Section 2 (1) of the act defines essential services to be maintained under the act. Some of these are any postal, telegraph or telephone service, including any service connected therewith; railway service or any transport service for the carriage of passengers or goods by air and any service connected with the operation or maintenance of aerodromes, any service in any major port. The government has the right to decide on transport, which in this case is restrictions on domestic and international flights, and passenger trains.

In short, any service with respect to which the Parliament has power to make laws or the government feels that its discontinuation would affect the maintenance of supplies and services necessary for sustaining life is considered an essential service. It prohibits the employees providing such services from striking. The employees cannot even refuse to work overtime if their work is considered necessary for maintenance of essential services. The act allows the State government to choose the essential services within their State. The interpretation of essential services hence varies from state to state. Hence, each state has a separate ESMA.

In case the nature of a strike is such that it disrupts only a state or states, then the states can invoke it. In case of disruption on a national scale, especially like in railways, the ESMA can be invoked by central government.

The act ceases to have effect on expiry of three years from the date of commencement of the act. However, the things done or omitted to be done before such cesser of operation of the act continue to be in effect. Upon three years of operation, Section 6 of General Clauses Act, 1897 will apply to affect such cesser as if the act has been repealed by a Central Act.

Why was the act introduced?

ESMA was created based on the colonial logic of using emergency powers to contain strikes back in those times. Since then the government was keen to invoke a law like ESMA because of the inherent danger of strikes taking the shape of a rebellion especially in certain essential services thereby causing public adversity.

Evolution of ESMA

On August 7, 1957, the President of India for the first time promulgated the Essential Services Maintenance Ordinance. At that time the post and telegraph employees, backed by the Confederation of the Central Government Employees, had threatened to go on strike. After the promulgation of the ordinance the strike did not materialize and thus the ordinance was revoked on August 12, 1957. On July 8, 1960 it was again promulgated to meet the challenge of the strike by the central government employees. The ordinance made the strike by government employees a penal offence. In 1968 for the third time the President of India promulgated the Essential Services Maintenance Ordinance on September 13, to meet the threat of strike by the central government employee.

The Ordinance of 1968 was the same as that of 1960 except the scope of the expression, “strike” was extended. Later on the Ordinance of 1968 was converted into a central act called the Essential Services Maintenance Act, 1968. 

Examples of invocation of ESMA

1980s was the “decade of trade union action” as the State started making amendments to some important labour laws.” In joint agitation the Trade Unions all over the country launched strikes, demonstrations and rallies. In response to this union action, the State invoked ESMA banning strikes in 12 industries in order to suppress the movement.

Earlier ESMA was enforced in 1957, 1960, and 1981 with a long term perspective of four years and later extended to another five years till 1990.  As the protests against the new economic policies grew, the government re-invoked Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) in 1992. ESMA became a handy instrument to suppress strikes and protests by workers and particularly those launched by public sector employees. 

Various State governments at different times have enacted/involved ESMA for example in Tamil Nadu in 1979, 1981, Maharashtra in 1981. The Uttar Pradesh Government used ESMA and the National Security Act (NSA) to halt the Uttar Pradesh Electricity Board Workers’ strike in January 2000. In 2006, ESMA was imposed against striking airport employees who were opposing the privatization process in the Delhi and Mumbai airports.

In 2016, the Delhi Government imposed ESMA against DTC bus drivers’ strike.

Salient features

  • Power to prohibit strikes in certain essential employments

Upon application of any provision or issuance of any order under this act, no person employed in any essential service shall go or remain on strike. Further any strike declared before or after such an order shall be declared illegal. Any order under the central law of ESMA shall be in force for only six months and the Central Government may extend it for a period of another six months if satisfied of a public interest necessity. As for the State Governments, they are bound by their respective state ESMA provisions.    

  • Penalty for commencing, instigating, providing financial aid to an illegal strike

Persons who commence as well as those who instigate it are liable to disciplinary action to the extent of dismissal. According to Section 4, Section 5 and Section 6 of the act legal action can be taken against any person who commences a strike, instigates, or incites other person to take part in it or knowingly expends or supply money in furtherance or support of a strike deemed illegal under the act.   

  • Allows state governments to have their own act

The ESMA is a law made by the Parliament of India under List No. 33 in Concurrent List of the Seventh Schedule of Constitution of India. However, the discretion of execution largely depends on the State governments. Thus, each state has a separate act with a slight variation in provisions from the central act as deemed suitable by the state governments. This freedom is provided by the central law only. Many states, including Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa, included the health services under ESMA and invoked the act against striking doctors. However, in case of a dispute legal mechanisms exist to challenge any decision taken under the terms of the act.

  • The Right to arrest without warrant

After the enforcement of ESMA under the Criminal Procedure, 1898, it gives the police the right to arrest anyone without a warrant who is found violating the Act’s provisions or any order issued under the terms of the same.

  • Punishment

The Act mandates imprisonment for a term of six months to one year depending upon the offence committed and/or a fine.

  • Provision to override other laws

For the time being in force, the provisions of ESMA or any other order issued under the same have the power to override any other laws including the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. 

Legal history: Is invocation of ESMA against employees’ fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression?

The crucial question to be answered when ESMA was introduced as an Ordinance in 1960 was whether restrictions imposed under it took away the right to freedom of speech and expression of the employees conferred to them under Article 19(1) (c) to form associations or unions?  

In the Bombay High Court Case of S. Vasuderam And Ors. V. Mittal and Ors (1961), the above issue was examined as to whether or not such restrictions under the ESMA ordinance were reasonable restrictions under Article 19 (4).  

The Court applied the test of reasonableness where it took into account the nature of the evil that was sought to be remedied by such law, the ratio of the harm caused to individual citizens by the proposed remedy, to the beneficial effect reasonably expected to result to the general public. It was also held necessary to consider in that connection whether the restraint caused by the law is more than was necessary in the interests of the general public.

The court also observed that the right to go on strike is different in character. That is, it is not joint or collective expression of views but is joint or collective action. By its very nature it is fraught with possibilities of leading to violence. The legislative intent of the Constitution was taken into account that if the makers had intended to confer on the citizens the right to go on strike as a fundamental right, they would have expressly said so.

Thus, it was held that the right to go on strike is not included in the right conferred on the citizens under Article 19(1) (c) to form associations or unions. Further, that with regard to the danger to be averted the restrictions imposed by the ordinance promulgated by the President were reasonable restrictions imposed in the interest of public order and hence not in contravention of Article 19(4) of the Constitution.

There have been no proceedings against the current act of 1968. Further, the Supreme Court has not yet ratified the holding of the High Court. Therefore, this is the current position of law on the issue.

Relevance during covid-19 lockdown

In wake of the COVID-19 outbreak the country has gone into an unprecedented state of lockdown. Following which the Union Cabinet Secretary on 11 March, 2020 announced all the States and Union Territories to invoke Section 2 of the Epidemic Act, 1897. According to Section 2 the State governments and UTs are empowered to take special measures and prescribe regulations as to dangerous epidemic disease. Following this, the State Governments have invoked ESMA in the respective states in order to minimize human-to-human contact and break the virus contagion’s chain. The government has restricted the movement of people to essential services only. Thus, on 24 March, 2020 the Ministry of Home Affairs issued guidelines as to what shall constitute essential services during the 21-day lockdown period. Pertaining to the current state of affairs the ESMA read with the aforementioned order from the Ministry of Home Affairs are guiding us to understand what constitutes essential services in the country. Disobedience of the orders stated the offender shall be subjected to punishment according to Section 188 of IPC and/or Section 4, Section 5, Section 6 of the ESMA. 

Considering the current situation, invocation of ESMA is an imperative to ensure a steady supply and maintenance of essential services like any system of public conservancy, sanitation or water supply, hospitals or dispensaries which are indispensible during a health crisis. Further, in order to maintain the normalcy of life of the community during the lockdown services like food and electricity supply are vital. It is surprising that a law introduced more than half a century ago is still relevant to use as an aiding tool for battling the modern disease of COVID-19. Different States are creatively using the provisions of ESMA to promulgate orders for expedite containment of the pandemic. For instance, Himachal Pradesh procured N95 masks, surgical masks and hand sanitizers under the Essential Services Maintenance Act by amending the Himachal Hoarding & Profiteering Prevention Order.

With the increase in the number of cases all over the country, the maintenance of essential services is crucial to fight the pandemic with least casualty. WHO has also stressed on maintenance of essential health services and given out guidelines to help countries navigate through these challenges in balancing the demands of responding directly to COVID-19 and in mitigating the risk of system collapse.

Thus, the relevance of ESMA during the present health crisis is paramount, however in order to give the act its fullest effect certain issues have been raised in the following section.  

A critical outlook

The Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 under which the states have been empowered to take special measures and prescribe regulations like ESMA against COVID, proves to be an inefficient tool in battling the public health crisis. It prima facie decentralizes the power and requires the Central government to rely on State governments for adoption of necessary acts like the ESMA, the Essential commodities act, The Indian Ports Act and so on. Moreover, in order to empower itself to lay down specific guidelines with respect to essential services and other things the central government had to invoked Section 6 (2)(i) of the Disaster Management Act. Thus, the law provides fragmented power to the central government obstructing it from enacting policies that are necessary for immediate action. Hence, a centralised response especially in case of a pandemic is imperative to expedite the implementation of necessary measures uniformly across the country. 


ESMA despite being a law of the 20th century is a pillar in fighting against the modern disease. However, a more centralised response will be helpful in binding the actions of the State governments in containing the pandemic. There is a need to empower the central government to override the decisions of state governments during medical emergencies to ensure optimal outcomes in a health crisis. Therefore, it is imperative that the failures that have characterized India’s response to COVID-19 forces policymakers to re-evaluate existing legal provisions to efficiently contain the spread of the on-going crisis and be better prepared for any such future outbreaks.

Author: Muskaan Garg from Jindal Global Law School, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana.

Editor: Tamanna Gupta from RGNUL, Patiala.

Insurance scheme for health workers

Reading time: 8-10 minutes.

The COVID-19 outbreak in India started towards the end of January posing serious health risks. Hospitals and health workers have been playing a huge role in treating patients. They are facing a new challenge as there is no fixed medical protocol to treat patients affected by this virus. The outbreak has led to an increased demand for health care workers and has put them on the front line of managing and treating patients. This has also called for maintaining the quality as well as the quantity of the available health care workers. The countrywide lockdown has further aggravated the situation for the health sector. The government has, thus, taken various steps to protect the health care workers from possible exposure to the virus and also to help their families.

Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan package: Insurance scheme for health workers fighting COVID-19

The Union Ministry of Finance launched a nation-wide insurance scheme allocating 1.7 lakh crore rupees to help the poor and the vulnerable fight the pandemic. This included various schemes to help the needy in this time of distress. To support the health care workers who have taken the lead and are treating the patients affected by COVID-19, the government has also introduced an insurance scheme specifically for them. This scheme was introduced as the health care workers are exposed to huge risks of health and life while treating the patients. The lesser availability of personal protection equipment has led to this risk.

Details and significance of this scheme 

Insurance cover:

This is an accident insurance scheme that covers the loss of life due to COVID-19 as well as accidental death caused due to COVID-19 related duties. It will provide the health care workers with coverage of 50 lakhs for the next ninety days and is applicable from 30th March 2020 till 30th June 2020. This will be extended in case the pandemic is not controlled.

Who is covered:

The scheme has considered all those health care providers who will be in direct touch with assisting and treating the patients. According to the notification released by the ministry, “Safai karamcharis, ward-boys, nurses, ASHA workers, paramedics, technicians, doctors and specialists, and other health workers” are covered under this scheme.

This scheme covers not only the health care providers working in government hospitals but also those working in private hospitals. The notification specifies that 22 lakh health care providers will be covered under this scheme. The scheme also covers daily wage workers working in the hospitals; outsourced staff of the government hospitals and workers hired through other contracts.

Process of claiming:

The process of claiming insurance has also been simplified. A family member of the deceased, the claimant, is required to fill up certain forms for making such a claim and also submit the necessary documents to the institution in which the deceased was working. The institution will then forward the same to the competent establishments such as the Director-General of Health Services as authorized by the State Government or the Central Government. This will then be sent to the insurance companies for approval of the claim.


The significance of this scheme can be explained based on the fact that health service providers have taken an immense risk in treating patients affected by this virus. Though it is similar to SARS, it was newly discovered in Wuhan, China in December 2019. As no existing protocol was present, the healthcare providers had to treat the patients in the way they thought to be the best. Worldwide, healthcare providers have developed symptoms and have contracted the virus while performing their duties.

Data shows that a significant percentage of the working health care providers in Italy have contracted the virus from the infected and few of them have died. Apart from this, the health care providers are short of the personal protective equipment, which puts them at higher risk levels.

In a hospital in Bihar, a patient was treated by doctors and nurses without personal protective equipment. Almost all of them started showing symptoms. So far, fifty doctors and nurses in India have tested positive for Coronavirus. After nearly thirty health care providers were tested positive in a Mumbai hospital, it was declared to be a containment zone.

Apart from doctors and nurses, daily wage workers and ward-boys are also exposed to the virus daily owing to the nature of their work. In a few hospitals, the health care providers have gone on strikes and some have even rendered their resignations due to the unavailability of basic protective equipment to treat the patients. Apart from the personal protective equipment, factors such as the increased exposure to the infected patient and a lack of training to treat respiratory disorders have also contributed.

Healthcare providers across the world have been exposed to such risks. The need to protect the health care providers has hence increased even more in this current situation. With many healthcare providers in India having gone into isolation, and many of them protesting, this scheme, which provides 50 lakhs to the legal heir of the deceased health service provider, is seen as a good move by many medical associations in the country. The Government has allotted the budget of the National Disaster Response force for managing the costs involved in the above scheme.

Salient features

Unlike a usual health insurance cover, this scheme provides for insurance coverage only after death. This scheme does not cover the expenses incurred in case the health care provider is admitted to a hospital after being tested positive for corona. This insurance scheme is in addition to the coverage taken by the person in his/her capacity.

The Government has also stated that the Central Government and the concerned State Governments will be required to give certificates to the health service providers based on which the insurance can be claimed. The New India Assurance Company has come forward and released the guidelines for the same. The company has also stated that the amount will be paid almost immediately. The positive test certificate is only necessary in cases of death due to COVID-19. Accidental death caused due to treating patients affected with COVID-19 does not require the test certificate.

The Government has, thus, tried to introduce a scheme for the safety and security of health care workers at risk and has also has tried to make the claiming process as hassle-free as possible.


The biggest shortcoming of the scheme is that the insurance coverage is only provided in case of death that includes death caused due to COVID-19 and accidental deaths caused due to COVID-19 related duties.

It is known that not everyone who contracts the virus dies. The shortcoming lies in the fact that the expense incurred by the family for treatment will be very high. The Supreme Court has time and again slammed the private hospitals for charging an excessive amount for treatments. Though there are other insurance schemes available such as the Ayushman Bharat, all the health workers are not necessarily covered under this scheme. For instance, in the Ayushman Bharat scheme, eligibility is decided on the basis of the income levels. All the health workers may not fall under the requisite income bracket and might not be able to afford the expense for treatment otherwise.

Though this scheme has tried to include under its ambit a huge population, it is expected that many will be ignored under the category of contract workers as they may not have been categorized, under those contracts, as “health workers”.

The Government, recently, has also released FAQs on the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package for health workers that aim to clear the common doubts including the coverage of the scheme. Since its release, after having read the fine print, the concerns against the scheme are being raised.

Legal provisions

Health has been perceived as a public concern in modern times. Though the health of a person is restricted to his/her personal boundaries, a situation like the present pandemic calls for measures to be taken by the Government.

The right to health is not an express right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. But many judgments have pointed out that the right to health is an implied right under Article 21. No clear boundaries have been laid so far as to determine what falls under the ambit of this right. The courts have time and again dealt with cases that involve reimbursement following the insurance schemes provided by the Government. In State of Punjab v Mohinder Singh Chawala [(1997) 2 SCC 83], the court held that the Constitution places an obligation on the State to provide reimbursement to the patient following the scheme provided by it.

Apart from Article 21, the Directive Principles of State Policy under Article 47 imposes the obligation on the State to improve public health. Article 41 of the Constitution deals with social security schemes.

Various insurance schemes in India introduced by both the Central Government and the State Government fall under the social security blanket. The PM Garib Kalyan insurance scheme is unfunded. The Government will be paying the premium through the budget of a specific department, namely the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. This scheme has other facets of social security as well for which a fund is created for it specifically.

Article 39(e) also places certain obligations on the state on a similar line. It provides that the State shall protect “the health and strength of workers, men, and women, and the tender age of children are not abused and that citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength”. Though the directive principles of State policy cannot be enforced in a court of law like a fundamental right can, they act as a guiding principle for the State.

This scheme does not have a specific legislation drawn out for this purpose and functions solely as an insurance scheme introduced by the Government. In countries like Canada and the United States, they have a statutory framework that acts as a legal backing to all kinds of insurance programs introduced by their respective governments. These frameworks also draw guidelines, and limits as to what is covered under every insurance scheme. Though no such statutory framework has been drawn for the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, a person eligible to claim the insurance can enforce his/her right under Article 21 in the court of law through various writs. 

The Central Government is empowered under Article 245 and Article 246 to make such laws. The Parliament can pass a law to back the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana under Entry 47 of List I. Entry 47 of List I deals with Insurance i.e. the Parliament has powers to pass a law for providing insurance. 

Though the scheme is limited only to the next ninety days (from 30th March 2020), enacting a law for its purpose will result in the proper application of the scheme. Introducing a law for the same gives a “legal guarantee” for the beneficiaries to enforce their rights in a court of law.


The scheme will cover about 22.12 lakh people. All of these are suspected to be at risk due to direct contact with the infected patients. This scheme was a result of numerous letters written by medical associations to take actions for the safety, and security of the health service providers. This move by the Government was invited by many medical associations as this gave security to the families of medical service providers.

The scheme also provides for immediate claiming of the coverage. But some of the medical associations are not very happy with the way the scheme has been designed. The insurance amount will be provided in cases of accidental death caused due to Coronavirus. An inclusion of hospitalization expenses caused due to the COVID-19 would have been a good motivation for the health service providers.

Most of the states in the country are in the second stage of the pandemic. There is already a shortage of nearly 2 million nurses and around six lakh doctors. Apart from this, there is also a demand for ward boys, paramedics, daily workers, etc. who lend a helping hand to the health care professionals. When India enters the third stage, the demand will increase. In such a situation, it is important to protect the health service providers form exposure to the virus.

The present scheme provides some relief but it is also important to provide non-monetary benefits to encourage health service providers in India. Long working hours and non-availability of personal protective equipment is a huge factor that discourages doctors from attending patients with symptoms. In these trying times, much more efforts are needed to save those who are working towards saving us.

Author: Harinie.S from Symbiosis Law School Hyderabad.

Editor: Shalu Bhati  from Campus Law Centre, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi.

Explained: FRBM Act

Reading time: 8-10 minutes.

There exists a nationwide consensus on the fact that a developing country such as ours needs to maintain its financial deficits in order to sustain the flow of disposable income in the hands of its citizens. In furtherance of the same, the Government of India (GoI) had promulgated the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act, 2003 to ameliorate the sinking economy of the country, owing to the increasing revenue and fiscal deficits during the late-1980s.

Likewise, even the State governments had enacted the FRBM Act within the framework of their respective legislations, with Karnataka pioneering the promulgation of the Act. Striving to hold the Government accountable for its reckless borrowings, the FRBM Act set an upper threshold of 3% (of the GDP/GSDP) on fiscal deficit and had also placed a ceiling on the Government’s debt and interest payment ratio.

In an attempt to efficiently finance its emergency relief package catered towards treating COVID-19 patients, the State of Kerala had recently proposed to borrow a sum of INR 12,500 crores from the Centre in April 2020. The same insinuates towards the possibility of the State being mandated to follow some strict limitations vis-à-vis its borrowing and/or spending capacities for the rest of the financial year, so as to maintain its fiscal deficit at 3% (of the GSDP), as per the FRBM regulations.

However, an analysis of Kerala’s current financial position has revealed that the State has the bargaining power to borrow a sum of about INR 25,000 crores during the current financial year of 2020-21. Accordingly, the State has asked for a relaxation of the circumscribing regulations pertaining to the maintenance of the fiscal deficit of the FRBM Act. While the overarching public policy concerns associated with the proposal may induce us into adjudging Kerala’s plea as warranted in law, it is only fair for us to meticulously analyse all the factors which are at play in the aforementioned issue.

Analysing Kerala’s proposal: The curious case of FRBM flexibilities

Clearly, the State of Kerala’s demand for relaxation of the FRBM regulations is not the first instance when a State has specifically asked for such flexibilities. Most of these flexibilities are worked through Section 4(2) of the Act, which is commonly referred to as the ‘escape clause’. This clause entitles the Centre with the discretion to exceed the yearly fiscal deficit target when there exists an impending quagmire related to factors related to the security of the nation, war, structural reform(s), calamities, epidemics et al.

Recently, the constant decrements in the corporate tax slabs was identified as an aberration within the structural reform of the Centre, which was considered grave enough to trigger the escape clause. Consequently, the Centre had modified the fiscal deficit cap for the fiscal year 2019-20 at 3.8% (a 0.5% increment over the previous ceiling). Economists have also argued this increment in the previous year necessitates a corresponding relaxation of the cap for 2020-21, (from 3% to 3.5%) to compensate for the spill-over impact of the reforms undertaken in the previous year.

Additionally, during the time of the global financial crisis, the fiscal deficit target saw a deviation of about 3.4% since the Centre was expected to do away with collecting taxes and focus on increasing its expenditure on creating new jobs and funding public projects. All of this was targeted towards countering the ill-effects of the global slowdown of growth which was incumbent owing to the financial crisis of 2008-09. Accordingly, the fiscal deficit thresholds set for various States were also relaxed during that financial year to 3.5% of the GSDP and such relaxations extended to the subsequent fiscal year as well.

With respect to countries’ proclivity towards amending their fiscal deficits during a particular fiscal year, American economist Alan J. Auerbach had presented a paper on fiscal policy in the Conference on “Rethinking Macroeconomics” at the Pearson Institute, in 2017. The paper highlighted that several countries had to recalibrate their fiscal deficit targets when their attempt to adhere to the same exhibited possibilities of a greater damage being caused to the economy. To this extent, even the Indian Finance Bill presented in 2018 had stipulated a few clauses (207-10) which were centred towards amending certain provisions of the FRBM Act. One such clause sought to eradicate the reference to the term ‘revenue balance’ while another focused on doing away with the practice of employing fiscal deficit as an operational parameter, altogether.

Clearly, the State of Kerala had been one of the first states to offer a sum of INR 20,000 crores towards allaying the rigours associated with the outbreak of the COVID-19 on the livelihoods as well as overall growth of the nation. A proposal by which the State now aims to borrow a sum of INR 12,500 crores when it already is in the fiscal position to borrow about INR 25,000 crores during this financial year seems to be a reasonable proposal, which may be approved to trigger Section 4(2) of the FRBM Act.

Objectives of the FRBM Act

Economists such as S. Mazumdar have argued that the objective of the FRBM Act revolved around assuring “inter-generational equity” in fiscal management along with ensuring the presence of macroeconomic stability in the long run. Owing to the losses accruing to the Indian economy due to reckless borrowing by both the Centre and the States, the FRBM Act was enacted to engender some level of accountability and transparency between the Government’s fiscal reforms and its public policies. Accordingly, the FRBM rules so promulgated were announced by the Government in 2004. These rules were stipulated to not only manage the fiscal reforms and policy in India but also to achieve sustained economic growth with social justice.

In addition, the FRBM Act was promulgated to strike a balance between the competing interests associated with public borrowings and taxations. For, in India, the fiscal deficit has been primarily financed through public borrowings which had a corresponding threat of increasing the taxation for the masses in the future. Economists have also conducted several studies wherein they have tried to examine the relationship between Government revenue and Government expenditure. The relationship between the two is often premised on the fact that revenue has a direct impact on the expenditure of the Government. In other words, it is neither desirable to have a high revenue deficit nor a high fiscal deficit to finance expenditure.

Thereby, the broad objective of the FRBM Act is to keep a check on the expenditure incurred by both the State as well as the Central Government in carrying out its policy reform during a fiscal year. Some economists also consider that the Act provides an institutional framework of fiscal consolidation within the Indian regime. For, with the promulgation of the Act, it has become imperative for the federal and the state legislatures to undertake steps towards curbing fiscal deficit, diminishing revenue deficit as well as engendering even greater revenue surplus in the coming years.

Some salient features of the FRBM Act

The FRBM Act has been enacted to ensure a greater transparency within the government machineries as they implement the policy reforms for a particular fiscal year. The Act has 13 Sections and some of them revolve around the Centre’s duty to project certain number of fiscal indicators in its policy statement. In other words, it is imperative for the Centre under the FRBM Act to display four of the fiscal indicators in the medium-term fiscal policy statement. These indicators include revenue deficit (as per % of GDP), fiscal deficit (as per % of GDP), tax revenue (as per % of GDP) as well as the cumulative outstanding liabilities (as per % of GDP). Along with this, the Act clearly sets a limit on the fiscal and revenue deficit for a specific fiscal year, under Section 4 of the Act. It has also been stated that any deviation from the pre-specified fiscal deficit target is not bound to exceed 0.5% of the GDP of that year. 

Furthermore, Section 3 of the FRBM Act deals with the fiscal policy statements which are laid every year before both the Houses of Parliament, along with the yearly financial statement. While handling down these statements, the Act mandates the Centre to also put forward the Fiscal Policy strategy statement, the Medium-term Fiscal policy statement, the Medium-term Expenditure Framework statement and the Macro-economic Framework statement. The Fiscal Policy Strategy statement is the broadest and the most exhaustive of all and is expected to include the strategic priorities of the Central Government, their fiscal policies, their primary fiscal measures along with an account of their current policies in accordance with the principles enlisted in Section 4 of the Act. The Macro-economic Framework statement, as defined in Section 3(5) is expected to contain a detailed assessment of the possibilities of economic growth prospects in the specific fiscal year.


The enactment of the FRBM Act inarguably reflected the legislature’s commitment towards fiscal conservatism. It is apparent that most countries depend on eternal financial assistance to meet their developmental expenses. However, one cannot deny the fact that some of these expenses are unproductive and thereby, fail to generate the required income for the economy.  In light of the points discussed above, an inclination towards accepting the State of Kerala’s proposal for relaxation of the fiscal deficit for this financial year is likely to be discerned.

Clearly, the ongoing pandemic created by the sudden outbreak of COVID-19 is grave enough to be qualified as a national calamity, which also makes it appropriate for triggering the applicability of the escape clause under the FRBM Act. A relaxation of the FRBM regulations is expected to facilitate both the Union as well as the State Government to gradually increase the overall expenditure to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

Author: Prateek Joinwal from West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata.

Editor: Sweksha from Law Centre-II, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi.

Kanika Kapoor negligence issue: Legal angle

Reading time: 6-8 mintues.

In a time where  COVID-19 poses to be a serious threat to citizens, law and order measures including the 21-day lockdown and the declaration of The Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 have been enforced by the central government.

Noted Bollywood Singer, Ms. Kanika Kapoor has been charged under the IPC and Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 for negligence and disobeying government orders to curb the spread of the COVID-19. The singer tested positive for the coronavirus four days after returning to the country from a trip to London. However, following a social media post by Kanika announcing that she has tested positive and that her family and she are in complete quarantine.

However, on the 24th of March, Lucknow Police came forward to state that formal FIRs have been launched against the singer before the Additional Chief District Magistrate under sections 188, 269, 120B of the Indian Penal Code. The complaint was registered by a medical officer against the singer to pursue criminal action, as, after her positive result, Ms. Kapoor attended 3 parties after flying into the country, and even hosted one. Statements have been put forth by her family, stating that Ms.Kapor had come in contact with nearly 350-400 families.

In addition to these families, Ms. Kapoor hosted a party at her home, which saw the likes of former Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje, BJP’s Lok Sabha MP Dushyant Singh. Parliamentarians Derek O Brien, Congress leader Jitin Prasada, and Uttar Pradesh Health Minister Jai Pratap Singh have also gone into quarantine after meeting the singer at an event.


In the Indian criminal justice system, retributive punishment allows the victim to take his/her perpetrator to Court for the harm caused to them. Every offense under the Indian Penal Code presumes to be invoked when an individual intentionally/unintentionally  (in certain exceptional circumstances) does not honor the duty of care owed to individuals around them.

In this particular case, the uproar highlighted several issues: Firstly, the importance of every citizen’s duty to one another, and where the Epidemic Diseases Act is invoked, these duties are legally mandated to ensure proper containment of the coronavirus.

It is stated that  Kanika Kapoor hosted three parties in Lucknow from March 13-15 and the same was attended by three hundred people, including prominent politicians and sitting members of parliament.

This showed a blatant disregard for the mandatory guidelines laid down by the government, where patients tested positive have to quarantine themselves to undergo treatment. 

Secondly, the rate of mutation and spread of the disease cannot be met by everyone with precautions. Portions of the society, including daily wage workers, municipality cleanliness workers and those under the below poverty line cannot afford to quarantine themselves for a long period.

Thus, where the news of the FIR broke, it was seen to be a situation where the law was broken intentionally by Ms. Kapoor, endangering the lives of many undiscerning individuals. This development came as a highlight of the legal implications of breaking the duty of care we owe as citizens to one another.

The FIR lodged against the singer charges her for negligence, malignancy in spreading a deadly disease and disobedience to an order by a public servant.

Legal principles involved:

Penal punishments for disobeying the guidelines framed by the government are detailed under certain provisions of the IPC, relating to negligence and malignancy in the spread of the disease.

Under section 188 of the IPC, the offense and penalty for disobeying an order promulgated by a public servant have been laid down. The provision lays down that an individual, who is found to be disobeying any guideline issued by the requisite authority may be sentenced to imprisonment for up to six months, or with a fine. The sentencing depends on the imminent danger by the individual’s disobedient acts.

Perhaps most pertinently, this section does not regard intention as the basis of mens rea. Under the provision,  “It is not necessary that the offender should intend to produce harm, or contemplate his disobedience as likely to produce harm”.

The second set of charges that have been filed against the singer is that of Negligence and Malignance, under sections 269 and 270 of the Indian Penal Code. Under both sections, if a person is found to be found performing acts that increase the danger of spreading the disease, whether intentional or not, they may be fined and imprisoned for some time.

Section 269 relates to unlawfully or negligently doing any act which is, and which he knows or has reason to believe to be, likely to spread the infection of any disease dangerous to life. Section 270, deals with the more intentional disobedience by individuals and has a term of imprisonment up to 2 years. Thus, what needs to be demonstrated is that there was a negligent act by an individual, establishment or government which is likely to spread infection dangerous to life and no precautions were taken by the individual.

Public reaction:

After the reportage of the news, there was a huge uproar, as many individuals had unknowingly come into contact with Ms. Kapoor.

Additionally, this was seen to be a situation where connotations of privilege and recklessness were attached to the acts performed by the singer, following the positive result of her COVID-19 test. The singer issued a statement, stating that her symptoms had surfaced much later after the airport screening procedure, however, it is seen from the police and medical officers, who initiated the complaint, that this seemed to be a willful act, even after her family was advised to quarantine themselves as well. Since the filing of the complaint, the medical officer, Mr. Sudhir Kumar Ojha, has issued several statements with regards to the singer’s acts.

Thereafter, it was seen that many MPs and celebrities who had come in contact with Ms.Kapoor have quarantined themselves, and expressed their concerns in upholding their end of the bargain in preventing the spread of the virus.


The whole situation has sparked several discussions, most of them surrounding the importance of the duty of care to one another. Organizations such as Human Rights Watch and certain activists have stated that punishment and police action only deter individuals from reporting their symptoms, proving to be a much larger crisis.

Presently, the government has issued guidelines for the national lockdown, in terms of citizens’ rights and duties, and have allowed police to take legal action in case of disobedience. The case is due for hearing on the 31st of March, before the Lucknow Court, and two more FIRs have been registered, as the singer is said to have attended at least three events in Lucknow and Kanpur.

Author: Anita from SLS, Pune.

Editor: Tamanna Gupta from RGNUL, Patiala.

Analysis: Quarantine v. Personal liberty

Reading time: 6-8 minutes.

“Life without liberty is like a body without spirit.” – Kahlil Gibran

The right to life and personal liberty is most fundamental of all our rights and gives meaning to our very existence.  Everyone comes into the world with a right to his person which includes the liberty of moving and using it at his own will. This Fundamental Right is guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution, which states “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to a procedure established by law.”

According to A.V.Dicey, “Personal liberty, as understood in English law, means in substance a person’s right not to be subjected to imprisonment, arrest, or other physical coercion in any manner that does not admit of legal justification”

 Bhagwati, J., said Article 21 “embodies a constitutional value of supreme importance in a democratic society.”

Being the most progressive provision of our Constitution, this right has been held to be the heart of the Constitution.  It is the only Article that has received the widest possible interpretation to include various rights like Right to Dignity of Life, Right to Travel, Right to Privacy, etc. The Constitution has made the judicial process as the protector of personal liberties. 

Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India: The right to live is not merely a physical right but includes within its ambit the right to live with human dignity. Personal liberty makes for the worth of the human being and travel makes liberty worthwhile. 

A.K.Gopalan v. State of Madras:  The ‘personal liberty’ in Art.21 primarily means the freedom from any kind of physical restraint or coercion, including arrest and detention, which essentially consists in the freedom of movement and locomotion. It also includes a bundle of several other positive rights, such as the right to eat, drink, sleep, work, etc., which would go to make up a man’s liberty.

Kharak Singh v. the State of U.P.: The term “life” means more than mere animal existence. The inhibition against its deprivation extends to all those limbs and faculties by which life is enjoyed.

D.B.M. Patnaik v. A.P.: Even a convict is entitled to the precious right guaranteed by Article 21, he shall not be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law.

COVID-19 quarantine

In December 2019, a novel Coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2 was first detected in Wuhan, People’s Republic of China. It caused an outbreak of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) which has now spread globally.

The World Health Organization determined that the outbreak of COVID-19 constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in January and on March 11, 2020, it announced the COVID-19 as a Pandemic.

To prevent the introduction of the disease to new areas and to reduce human-to-human transmission, many countries have taken multiple public health measures such as Quarantine and total Lockdown.  By the United Nations Charter and International law principles, Member states have the sovereign right to implement their health policies, even if this involves the restriction of movement of individuals. Article 3 of the International Health Regulations, 2005 specifies rules for implementation of quarantine, ensuring it to be respectful of the dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms of persons.

Quarantine involves the restriction of movement, or separation from the rest of the population, of healthy persons who may have been exposed to the virus, with the objective of monitoring their symptoms and ensuring early detection of cases. Persons who are quarantined need to be provided with health care; financial, social and psychosocial support; and basic needs, including food, water, and other essentials.

The global containment strategy includes the rapid identification of laboratory-confirmed cases and their isolation and management either in a medical facility or at home. WHO recommends that contacts of a COVID-19 positive patient be quarantined for 14 days. 

Constitutional validity of Quarantine

All citizens of India have a Fundamental Right  “to assemble peaceably” and “to move freely throughout the territory of India”, guaranteed under Article 19(1) (b) and 19(1) (d), respectively.

Quarantine being a limitation on free movement and assembly prima facie violates this fundamental right. However, Article 19 (3) says “Nothing in sub-clause (b) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the State from making any law imposing, in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India or public order”. Similarly, Article 19(5) gives the state power to make such laws in the interest of the general public.

Moreover, Public Health and sanitation, hospital and dispensaries are items under List II of the Constitution and hence, States are empowered to make laws on these subjects.

Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897:  This is the main legal weapon the government possesses today. The objective of this Act is to provide for better prevention of the spread of dangerous epidemic diseases. Any state government, when satisfied that any part of its territory is threatened with an outbreak, may authorize all measures, including quarantine, to prevent it.

Section 2 empowers a state to inspect people and segregate suspected patients. Measures and regulations for the inspection, vaccination, and inoculation of persons, including their segregation in a hospital, temporary accommodation, or otherwise can also be taken.

The government of India declared the Coronavirus disease as a ‘notified disaster’ under the National Disaster Management Act, 2005. This Act’s purpose is to coordinate the response to natural or man-made disasters and capacity-building in disaster resiliency and crisis response. 

Sanctions against violation of Quarantine

While dealing with an emergency caused by the outbreak of a dangerous disease, the state may seek the cooperation of the public. If the desired cooperation is not forthcoming, a regulation may be imposed. For example, Section 144 (Cr.P.C.) empowers the administration to impose restrictions on the personal liberties of individuals to prevent injury or danger to human life, health, and safety or disturbance of public tranquility.

Failure to obey or comply with such restrictions constitutes a punishable violation under the following sections of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Section 188: Whoever disobeys a direction promulgated by a public servant, if such disobedience causes or tends to cause danger to human life, health or safety, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term up to six months, or with fine or both.  Any person who disobeys any order or regulation under the 1897 EPD Act may be charged under this section.

Section 269: Whoever unlawfully or negligently does any act likely to spread the infection of any disease dangerous to life, shall be punished with a term up to six months, or fine, or both.

Section 270: Whoever malignantly does any act which is, likely to spread the infection of any disease dangerous to life, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term up to two years, or fine, or both.


“Desperate times breed desperate measures.” Quarantine, across the globe, is proving to be the best bet in the containment of Coronavirus disease. It might be interfering with our liberty but such a reasonable restriction is even permissible under our Constitution. In the interest of general public and order, it is also our duty as a citizen to cooperate with the government and help stop this outbreak.

Author: Sweksha from Law Centre-II, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi.

Editor: Tamanna Gupta from RGNUL, Patiala.

Analysis: Lockdown announced by Prime Minister

Reading time: 6-8 minutes.

As we know our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has announced 21 days lockdown on 24th March 2020 due to the spread of novel coronavirus in our country. Considering the current situation PM has done a great job and a smart move was played by him to control the number of infected persons. As we know cases of coronavirus are increasing every day at a very rapid rate every citizen must cooperate and equally participate in fighting against this pandemic. Globally the confirmed positive cases as crossed half million now hence locking down the nation for 21 days and social distancing is necessary to break the chain of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a new illness that affects the human lungs and airways.

Centre and different states took various measures to protect their state from coronavirus they are as follows:-

States have been told to ensure timely payment of wages to laborers at their place of work during the lockdown. House rent should not be demanded from laborers for this period.

Orissa HC has instructed the state authorities to make apposite arrangements for providing food, shelter and ensure the medical screening for migrants.

  Andhra Pradesh HC directed the state government to ensure that the health workers have necessary personal protective equipment.

Jammu & Kashmir has passed a series of orders to ensure social distancing, to break the transmission cycle of the deadly virus.

A batch of 275 people evacuated from the coronavirus – hit Iran on Sunday, were taken to the Army Wellness Facility set up at Jodhpur.

Salient features of the lockdown

  • Social distancing is one of the major motives of the lockdown to break the chain of COVID-19.
  • The government notified that during 21 days lockdown the availability of essential commodities and things required for basic necessity will remain the same.
  • This lockdown is like curfew even more strict than ‘Janta Curfew’ because legal actions can take place if anyone violates the conditions of lockdown.
  • The facility of transport service- air, rail, and roadways are suspended during this lockdown.
  • Except for the government and private offices involved in essential services all the offices remain close.
  • The lockdown will lead to economic crisis in the country but the priority was given to save lives as rightly said by the respected Prime Minister Narendra Modi “Jaan hai to Jahan hai”

Sanctions against violation

The lockdown announced by the Prime Minister of India in order to control the increasing number of coronavirus patients and to break the chain shall be followed strictly. However, those who are not taking it seriously shall be liable for violating the lockdown orders given by the public servant under the following sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC):-

Section 269 – Negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life shall be punished for imprisonment up to six months, or fine, or both.

Section 270 – Malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life shall be liable for imprisonment up to two years, or fine, or both.

Section 188 – Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant shall be liable for imprisonment up to six months, and fine up to 1000 Rupees, or both.

While the punishment can vary from fact to fact and case to case, violators could be imprisoned for up to two years and fined up to 1000 rupees.

Legal provisions

19 states had announced complete lockdown. The Government of India is deriving powers to issue such directives and guidelines provided under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 (EDA) and Disaster Management Act, 2005 (DMA). These are the two acts that provide the statutory basis to the Centre and the State to act against the Coronavirus. These acts contain sufficient provisions to act in a manner to protect the country, due to which Centre found no necessity of declaring an emergency in the country.

The Epidemic Disease Act, 1897 is a small but important act containing only four sections giving power to both Central as well as State governments to take special measures and prescribe such regulation to prevent the spread of  ” dangerous epidemic disease”. Under Section 2A of the Act, the Central government has the power to take any measures or prescribe regulations to inspect any ship or vessel leaving or arriving in any port and to detain any person planning to leave or arrive in India. The revised travel advisory issued by a group of ministers, including the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, is an example of this.

State governments also have the power under Section 2(1) of the Epidemic Act to take measures to prevent the outbreak of dangerous epidemic disease by prescribing regulations to be enforced concerning any person or group of people. An example of this would be the order on March 16 under the Delhi Epidemics Diseases, COVID -19 Regulations, 2020, whereby the Delhi government has restricted gatherings with groups of more than 50 persons till March 31.

The Disaster Management Act, 2005:

The Epidemic Disease Act, 1897 does not provide any such guidelines and infrastructure to deal with such an Epidemic that’s why the Parliament in 2005 enacted the Disaster Management Act. The definition of a “disaster” in Section 2 (d) of the Disaster Management Act states that a disaster means a “catastrophe, mishap, calamity or grave occurrence in any area, arising from natural or man-made causes”.

 To address the current epidemic outbreak, the Central government has included the COVID-19 outbreak as “Notified Disaster” as a “critical medical condition or pandemic situation”. Through this act, the government gets access to the appropriate funds so as provide relief and other facilities in such worst conditions. There are three funds: the National Disaster Response Fund, the State Disaster Response Fund, and the District Disaster Response fund.

Under Section 46 of the act, the National Executive Committee and the National Disaster Management Authority can authorize the use of such funds for emergency responses, relief, and rehabilitation.

The State Disaster Response Fund is being used for multiple purposes, such as setting up quarantine facilities, establishing additional labs, covering the cost of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers, procuring thermal scanners, ventilators, air purifiers and consumables for government hospitals including food, clothing and medical care to people isolated there. Besides, they are also used to cover the cost of consumables for sample collection, screening and contact tracing of positive persons.

Constitution validity

 As we know, our Constitution is supreme and consider as a grundnorm. Every enacted law derives its validity from the Constitution of India. Any provision or act which is in contravention with the Articles of the constitution is void ab initio.  The lockdown for 21 days announced by the prime minister is valid. As the constitution grants powers to the PM also Article 256 deals with the obligation of state and the union’s executive power and extending the power of Union of giving necessary directions to the State as may appear to the Government of India to be necessary for the purpose.

The pandemic that is affecting every country and India as a whole and the declaration of lockdown was in order to prevent the life of the people. Since there is no internal or external aggression the provision regarding emergency was not activate which means that fundamental rights cannot be suspended.

Here the Centre, the state and the citizens came together and agreed on wilfully waving of their right to movement and bound themselves in certain boundaries to fight against this pandemic disease i.e. Coronavirus collectively and it is completely valid as it is for the welfare of the society.


Corona Virus is pandemic in nature and it is widely spreading all over the world, destroying the economic conditions. The Centre has announced 21 days lockdown to control the disaster which is ready to knock down the country. The lockdown is constitutionally valid and it shall be strictly followed by the people otherwise the person shall be legally liable for his acts under IPC.

Author: Anushika Parashar from Mody University, Lacchamangarh.

Editor: Tamanna Gupta from RGNUL, Patiala.