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Ministry of Home Affairs  issues Fresh guidelines amid extension of lockdown

April 15, 2020

After the Hon’ble Prime Minister addressed the Nation on April 14, 2020 informing that the lockdown shall be extended till May 03, 2020, in pursuance to the directions of the Ministry of National Disaster Management Authority the Ministry of Home Affairs has consolidated the guidelines and made the following directions to be followed till May 03. 2020.[1]

  1. Which Offices of the Government of India, its autonomous / subordinate offices and public corporations shall remain open?

  • Defense, central armed police forces.
  • Treasury (including, Pay & Accounts Offices, Financial Advisers and field offices of the Controller General of Accounts, with bare minimum staff),
  • Public utilities (including petroleum, CNG, LPG, PNG), power generation and transmission units, post offices.
  • Disaster management and Early Warning Agencies
  • National Informatics Centre.
  • Customs clearance at ports/airports/land border, GSTN; and MCA 21 Registry with bare minimum staff.
  • Reserve Bank of India and RBI regulated financial markets and entities like NPCI, CCIL, payment system operators and standalone primary dealers with bare minimum staff.
  1. Which offices of the States / union territory governments / autonomous bodies shall remain open?

  • Police, home guards, civil defence, fire and emergency services, disaster management, and prisons.
  • District administration and Treasury (including field offices of the Accountant General with bare minimum staff)
  • Electricity, water, sanitation.
  • Municipal bodies- Only staff required for essential services like sanitation, personnel related to water supply etc
  • Resident Commissioner of States, in New Delhi with bare minimum staff, for coordinating Covid-19 related activities and internal kitchens operations
  • Forest offices :Staff/ workers required to operate and maintain zoo, nurseries, wildlife, firefighting in forests, watering plantations, patrolling and their necessary transport movement.
  • Social Welfare Department, with bare minimum staff, for operations of Homes for children/ disables/ senior citizens/ destitute/ women /widows; Observation homes; pensions.
  • Agencies engaged in procurement of agriculture products, including MSP operations.
  • `Mandis’ operated by the Agriculture Produce Market Committee or as notified by the State Government.
  • The above offices (SI. No 1 & 2) should work with minimum number of employees. All other offices may continue to work-from-home only.
  1. Hospitals, Veterinary Hospitals and all related medical establishments, including their manufacturing and distribution units, both in public and private sector, such as dispensaries, chemist, Pharmacies (including Jan Aushadhi Kendra) and medical equipment shops, laboratories, Pharmaceutical research labs, clinics, nursing homes, ambulance etc. will continue to remain functional. The transportation for all medical personnel, nurses, para-medical staff, other hospital support services be permitted.
  2. Which Commercial and private establishments will be allowed to be open?

  • Shops, including ration shops (under PDS), dealing with food, groceries, fruits and vegetables, dairy and milk booths, meat and fish, animal fodder, fertilizers, seeds and pesticides. However, district authorities may encourage and facilitate home delivery to minimize the movement of individuals outside their homes.
  • Banks, insurance offices, and ATMs including IT vendors for banking operations; Banking Correspondent and ATM operation and cash management agencies.
  • Print and electronic media.
  • Telecommunications, internet services, broadcasting and cable services. IT and IT enabled Services only (for essential services) and as far as possible to work from home.
  • Delivery of all essential goods including food, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment through E-commerce.
  • Petrol pumps, LPG, Petroleum and gas retail and storage outlets
  • Power generation, transmission and distribution units and services.
  • Capital and debt market services as notified by the Securities and Exchange Board of India.
  • Cold storage and warehousing services
  • Private security services.
  • Data and call centres for Government activities only.
  • Farming operations by farmers and farm workers in the field.
  • Custom Hiring Centres (CHC)’ related to farm machinery.
  • Shops of agriculture machinery, its spare parts (including its supply chain) and repairs to remain open.
  • Shops for truck repairs on highways, preferably at fuel pumps.
  • Operations of the fishing (marine)/aquaculture industry, including feeding & maintenance; hatcheries, feed plants, commercial aquaria, movement of fish/shrimp and fish products, fish seed/feed and workers for all these activities.
  1. Which Industrial establishments will remain open?

  • Manufacturing units of essential goods, including drugs medical devices, their raw materials & intermediates. pharmaceutical,
  • Production units, which require continuous process, after obtaining required permission from the State Government.
  • Coal and mineral production, transportation, supply of explosives and activities incidental to mining operations.
  • Manufacturing units of packaging material for food items, drugs, pharmaceutical and medical devices.
  • Manufacturing and packaging units of Fertilizers, Pesticides and Seeds.
  • Tea industry, including plantation with maximum of 50% workers.
  1. What all transport services — air, rail, roadways — would be allowed to run?

  • Transportation for essential goods only.
  • Fire, law and order and emergency services
  • Operations of Railways, Airports and Seaports for cargo movement, relief and evacuation and their related operational organisations.
  • Inter-state movement of goods/ cargo for inland and exports.
  • Cross land border movement of essential goods including petroleum products and LPG, food products, medical supplies.
  • Intra and inter-state movement of harvesting and sowing related machines like combined harvester and other agriculture/horticulture implements.
  • Transit arrangements for foreign national(s) in India.
  1. Which hospitality services would be allowed to be operational?

  • Hotels, home stays, lodges and motels, which are accommodating tourists and persons stranded due to lockdown, medical and emergency staff, air and sea crew.
  • Establishments used/ earmarked for quarantine facilities
  1. All educational, training, research, coaching institutions etc. shall remain closed.
  2. All places of worship shall be closed for public. No religious congregations will be permitted, without any exception.
  3. Ali social/ political/ sports/ entertainment/ academic/ cultural/ religious functions / gatherings shall be barred.
  4. In case of funerals, congregation of not more than twenty persons will be permitted.
  5. AlI persons who have arrived into India after 15.02.2020, and all such persons who have been directed by health care personnel to remain under strict home/ institutional quarantine for a period as decided by local Health Authorities, failing which they will be liable to legal action under Sec. 188 of the IPC.

Exceptions: Release of quarantined persons, who have arrived in India after 15.2.2020, after expiry of their quarantine period and being tested Covid-19 negative (as per attached SOP)[2].

  1. The organisations/employers must ensure necessary precautions against COV1D-19 virus, as well as social distance measures, as advised by the Health Department from time to time.
  2. In order to implement these containment measures, the District Magistrate will deploy Executive Magistrates as Incident Commanders in the respective local jurisdictions. The Incident Commander will be responsible for the overall implementation of these measures in their respective jurisdictions. All other line department officials in the specified area will work under the directions of such incident commander. The Incident Commander will issue passes for enabling essential movements as explained.
  3. All enforcing authorities to note that these strict restrictions fundamentally relate to movement of people, but not to that of essential goods.
  4. 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 Sec. 188 of the IP

The notification further states that any contravention of the above guidelines and directions shall attract the following penalties under Section 51 to 60 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005:

S No. Provision Penalty
1.        Section 51 Punishment for obstruction, etc.

In case anyone obstructs any officer or employee of the Central Government or the State Government, or a person authorised by the National Authority or State Authority or District Authority or refuses to comply with the orders shall:

Who so ever:

be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine, or with both,

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

2.        Section 52 Punishment for false claim.

Whoever knowingly makes a claim which he knows or has reason to believe to be false for obtaining any relief, assistance, repair, reconstruction or other benefits consequent to disaster from any officer of the Central Government, the State Government, the National Authority, the State Authority or the District Authority

Punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, and also with fine.
3.        Section 53. Punishment for misappropriation of money or materials, etc.

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 or any part thereof or wilfully compels any other person so to do

Punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, and also with fine.

 

4.        Section 54: Punishment for false warning.

Whoever makes or circulates a false alarm or warning as to disaster or its severity or magnitude, leading to panic, shall on conviction

Punished with imprisonment which may extend to one year or with fine.
5.        Section 55. Offences by Departments of the Government.

where an offence under this Act has been committed by any Department of the Government, the head of the Department shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly unless he proves that the offence was committed without his knowledge or that he exercised all due diligence to prevent the commission of such offence.

(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), where an offence under this Act has been committed by a Department of the Government and it is proved that the offence has been committed with the consent or connivance of, or is attributable to any neglect on the part of, any officer, other than the head of the Department, such officer shall be deemed to be guilty of that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly

6.        Section 56. Failure of officer in duty or his connivance at the contravention of the provisions of this Act

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

punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine.
7.        Section 57. Penalty for contravention of any order regarding requisitioning.

 

If any person contravenes any order made under section 65, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine or with both.
8.        Section 58. Offence by companies.

(1) Where an offence under this Act has been committed by a company or body corporate, every person who at the time the offence was committed, was in charge of, and was responsible to, the company, for the conduct of the business of the company, as well as the company, 25 shall be deemed to be guilty of the contravention and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly: Provided that nothing in this sub-section shall render any such person liable to any punishment provided in this Act, if he proves that the offence was committed without his knowledge or that he exercised due diligence to prevent the commission of such offence. (2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), where an offence under this Act has been committed by a company, and it is proved that the offence was committed with the consent or connivance of or is attributable to any neglect on the part of any director, manager, secretary or other officer of the company, such director, manager, secretary or other officer shall also, be deemed to be guilty of that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.

Explanation.—For the purpose of this section— (a) “company” means any body corporate and includes a firm or other association of individuals; and (b) “director”, in relation to a firm, means a partner in the firm.

Further to the above, no court shall take cognizance of offenses except when complaint is made by:

a) the National Authority, the State Authority, the Central Government, the State Government, the District Authority or any other authority or officer authorised in this behalf by that Authority or Government, as the case may be; or

(b) any person who has given notice of not less than thirty days in the manner prescribed, of the alleged offence and his intention to make a complaint to the National Authority, the State Authority, the Central Government, the State Government, the District Authority or any other authority or officer authorised as aforesaid

In view of the above, it is advisable that all individuals / public and private body corporates should stay quarantined and be indoors, except those specially exempted as an “essential service” to avoid the spread of Coronavirus. Any contravention / disobedience of the guidelines may also attract penalties under section 188 of the Indian Penal Code which may either result  in punishment with imprisonment of either which may extend to 6 months or fine which may extend to INR 1000 or both.

[1]
https://mha.gov.in/sites/default/files/MHA%20DO%20letter%20dt.14.4.2020%20to%20Chief%20Secretaries%20and%20Administrators%20for%20strict%20implementation%20of%20Lockdown%20Order%20during%20extended%20period.pdf

[2] https://mha.gov.in/sites/default/files/PR_Consolidated%20Guideline%20of%20MHA_28032020%20%281%29_1.PDF

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