The Centre on Thursday asked all states and Union Territories to take penal action against those who violate restrictions imposed during the countrywide lockdown to contain the coronavirus pandemic, PTI reported. The violators will be charged under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Disaster Management Act, 2005, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said in a letter.
The lockdown measures that were issued on March 24 categorically state that any person violating these containment measures will be liable to be proceeded against as per the provisions of Section 51 to 60 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, besides legal action under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code, the letter issued by the home ministry said. Section 188 of the IPC pertains to disobedience to an order promulgated by a public servant.
Bhalla said anyone obstructing enforcement of lockdown could face imprisonment up to two years in prison, while anyone who makes false claims can be sentenced to two years imprisonment and can be fined. The misappropriation of money, funds or any other material in emergency situations like the pandemic will also invite two years of imprisonment with a fine, he added.
The government also requested the states and Union Territories to publicise the rules and the penal provisions so that people do not violate the lockdown restrictions. However, in case someone is found to have committed an offence, action will be taken by local law enforcement agencies accordingly, it added.
The Union health ministry said India has reported 1,965 cases so far, and 50 deaths. Several states are still identifying and tracing people linked to a religious event held at the Nizamuddin Markaz in Delhi last month. The ministry said 400 confirmed coronavirus cases are linked to the event, and there might be more.