Difference between Emergency and Lockdown in India

Lockdown: an unlawful act or need of the hour?

On March 21, 2020, Narendra Modi, Prime minister of India imposed a 21 days nationwide lockdown pertaining to the spread of a pandemic named covid-19. The virus originated from China and very soon it was spread globally. Many countries had to face severe conditions because of the pandemic. The vaccine of the same is yet to be discovered and is still in the clinical testing stage in various countries of the world.

In lieu of recent events, there is a common debate going on in India which sees the lockdown from various perspectives; one is whether the lockdown imposed was forced on the citizens or not, and the other is what is the legal validation of the same.

In this article, we will learn about the difference between the emergency and lockdown as per the dictionary meaning and also, according to the constitution of India. We will also learn about the existing laws in India which define what is to be done in such unexpected situations and what power does the government hold.

In simple words, there are two separate laws on Indian constitution that define emergency and a lockdown based on the demand of the situation. There are three types of emergencies according to the constitution of India;

Read more:  Salaries, Pensions and Allowances of Members of Parliament Act, 1954

National Emergency

Article 352 of the Indian Constitution talks about the national emergency. The national emergency is imposed whereby there is a grave threat to the security of India or any of its territories due to war, external aggression or armed rebellion. Such emergency shall be imposed by the president on the basis of a written request by the council of ministers headed by the Prime Minister. When they are satisfied that there is an imminent danger thereof.

State Emergency

Article 256 talks about the failure of constitutional machinery in the state also known as the President’s rule. If the president on the Governor’s report or otherwise is satisfied that the situation has arisen that the government can’t be carried in accordance with the constitutional provisions then, he may issue a State emergency.

Financial Emergency

The president under Article 360 of the constitution has the power to declare financial emergency if he is satisfied that the financial stability or the credit of India or any part of its territory is threatened. It has to be laid before both the Houses of Parliament and ceases to operate at the expiration of two months unless meanwhile approved by the resolution of Houses.

During the period of emergency for the execution of power, there might be an infringement of Fundamental rights of individuals, which are judicially granted by the Constitution of India. The validity of actions must be reviewed to deter political gains and give way to political interest. Despite the abuse of powers of the emergency provisions still have an important role to play in the conditions prevailing in India, though it still remains a controversial issue in the country.

“The president practises complete power over the declaration of emergency if and whenever the country’s security is in question,” said Mallika Pujari, Lawyer at Bombay high court.

“Whereas some fundamental rights are affected depending on the type of emergency imposed in India. After the 44th amendment of the act article 20 (right to protection in respect to conviction of offences) and article 21 (right to life) are barred from suspension in any kind of emergency,” added Pujari.

Now let us understand the current scenario of the lockdown which took place as a need of the hour due to the rapid spread of the pandemic. This was imposed under the Disaster management act, 2005. By virtue of this Act, authority is established which is known as the National Disaster Management Authority. The main function of this authority is to combat the Disasters and frame policies to prevent Disasters etc from happening.

Ruturaj Deshmukh, a high court lawyer from Mumbai with an experience of almost 3 years said, “Whenever any situation arises which threatens the public in large, the Authority is vested with the power to take such measures in order to mitigate the situation. The definition of DISASTER is specifically given in the Act itself.”

The constitution is in place accounting to various specific laws to check whether the fundamental rights are not violated in any sense except the emergency act. There are definitely laws made to deal with such calamities like the current pandemic we are dealing with, but they remain inactive until and unless forced upon to put to practise. Then taking into consideration, if necessary new laws are made or the old ones are amended.

“The nationwide lockdown imposed in India was not illegal or unlawful in nature, but it was a tough decision taken by the government with lack of planning towards the implementation as everything was done in a hurry, which left us in a messier situation as compared to earlier, said Niranjan Kandade, another law practitioner in the high court of Bombay.

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