NEW DELHI: The government on Thursday directed states and union territories to book under relevant provisions of the Indian Penal Code and the Disaster Management Act, 2005 people who violate lockdown rules or make false claims.
In a letter to all chief secretaries of the states and union territories, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said the lockdown measures issued on March 24 clearly mention 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 IPC".
It is requested that for the attention of the public authorities and citizens, the penal provisions under the DM Act and IPC should be widely circulated and for violation of lockdown measures, action under relevant provisions shall be taken by the law enforcement authorities, he said.
The move came in the wake of reports of violation of lockdown in different parts of the country and clashes by some people with health workers and police.
Bhalla also cited the provisions of DM Act and IPC and said anyone obstructing enforcement of lockdown could be punishable for jail term of up to two years and anyone making false claim on any matter can be punished up to two years of jail with fine and laws.
He also said misappropriation of money or material in disaster-like situation invites two years of jail with fine.
The home secretary also referred to his March 31 letter to the chief secretaries wherein he asked them to strictly implement the lockdown measures issued by the home ministry under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 in letter and spirit, without allowing any exception.
He further referred to the Supreme Court observation on the 21-day lockdown announced to contain the spread of coronavirus.
While mentioning about the provisions of DM Act and the IPC, the Supreme Court had observed that "we trust and expect that all concerned viz.
, state governments, public authorities and citizens of this country will faithfully comply with the directives, advisories and orders issued by Union of India in letter and spirit in the interest of public safety".
Bhalla said in the lockdown measures issued on March 24, it was clearly mentioned 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 IPC".
The home secretary's letter also attached the legal provisions of the two laws.
According to the laws, anyone who obstructs any government officer or refuses to comply with any direction given by or on behalf of the government shall on conviction be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine, or with both.
And if such obstruction or refusal to comply with directions results in loss of lives or imminent danger thereof, shall on conviction be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years.
For false claim, anyone could be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, and also with fine.
Whoever, being entrusted with any money or materials, or otherwise being, in custody of, or dominion over, any money or goods, meant for providing relief in any threatening disaster situation or disaster, misappropriates or appropriates for his own use or disposes of such money or materials is punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, and also with fine.
For issuing false warning, leading to panic, anyone could be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to one year or with fine.
Any officer, on whom any duty has been imposed by or under this Act and who ceases or refuses to perform or withdraws himself from the duties of his office shall, unless he has obtained the express written permission of his official superior or has other lawful excuse for so doing, be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine.