Laws in the days of Crisis and the Pandemic
Dynamicity is the nature of this world. Many changes and transformations takes place periodically in this world. We are in one of those where revolution is happening through sufferings. The pandemic disease, COVID-19 has spread all over the world. There are number of deaths happening every moment due to the pandemic. Both the people and the government is taking actions to prevent the deaths and spread of the disease. There are also many people who are recovering and are cured after being treated. Amidst all these circumstances, there are many individual and public laws and rights being violated by the government and the individuals. At this point of time it is very crucial to be aware of the necessity and the consequences of these.
Various Perplexities faced during the Pandemic
The current scenario has been a very difficult one for everyone, be it to prevent ourselves from getting infected or to fight after being infected. Along with this there are other problems faced by the people and the country, irrespective of whether it is related to the disease or not. Below, are some problems dotted down.
Due to the increasing level of spread of the disease, people are asked to stay at home, discontinuing all their outside job and works. This has mainly caused mental distress; domestic problems; economic instability; increase in conditions like poverty, hunger, inequality etc; and loss of job/work. As people are asked to stay at home, due to misunderstandings and some problems in the families, cases of domestic violence, marital rape, mental stress, mental disturbance, decrease in mental health condition; has increased in many families. This has also piled up lots of cases in the family court.
Along with this, the children are facing depression, as they are not allowed to go out and play with friends; which is completely against their requirement at that age. The online education conducted and parents pressure to concentrate on their academics in some families has added upon to their mental distress and depression. There are also few cases of children committing suicide for the same reasons, recently.
Many families have become economically instable due to their lack of opportunity to continue their work in this pandemic. They are finding it difficult to meet their day to day basic needs. The worst hit are the migrant workers, blue color job workers, unskilled laborers, construction workers etc. Accredited social health activists or the ASHA workers, who have done the work of going to houses and screening vulnerable persons for COVID-19 had raised strike against the government for their meager pay. Adding to this, in many private organizations and institutions, workers are fired from their job due to lack of money or profits to pay their salaries. This in turn has increased the inflation rate in the economy, poverty rate, hunger, mortality rate, illiteracy rate etc. Some of these includes futuristic estimations as well.
But, amidst all these though the environment is healing due to less pollution and human interaction, there are few instances such as garbage disposal, health facilities, which are not performed properly by the concerned workers authorities to lack of government encouragement and facilities provided in this pandemic situation. This acts as blockages in the healing process of mother earth. Negligence in executing health treatments has increased the pace of disease spread in the society and has blocked the curing process.
After all planning, taking measures and implementing it to prevent the spread of disease, there are some people who do not cooperate with it. In the process of controlling them there are instances where the police officers have lost their patience and have behaved inhumanely, keeping aside the laws and rights mandated to be followed. The recent ones were in Tamil Nadu where, the culprits were beaten to death for opening their shop during the lockdown period; and the other one was in Bhopal where the whole farmland and the crops were destroyed by the officers.
Apart from all these, there are other external problems the country is facing. There are natural calamities happening in various part of the country; cyclone Amphan in the West Bengal and Odisha regions, cyclone Nisarga in the regions of Maharashtra; and the flood disaster faced by the people of Assam. The natural habitat have also disturbed the mankind this year when we see the spread of increasing population of locusts in the Rajasthan, Gujarat and the north western region, damaging large amount of crops grown. Amidst all these there are international fights from the neighboring countries, Pakisthan, China taking place taking place in the border regions of LAC, LOC and POK.
Laws flouted in this situation and its effects
There are various societal and individual rights not abided and violated in this situation. This may be due to the necessity arising out of the situation or due to anxiety and negligence. The following are some of them listed out.
In order to prevent the spread and contact with the virus, the government had imposed lockdown in various regions of the country, where people were not allowed to move around and were expected to stay in their respective home. Article 19(1)(d) of The Indian Constitution guarantees to all citizens of India the right “to move freely throughout the territory of India”. This right is, however subject to reasonable restrictions mentioned under Article 19(5) which empowers the state to impose reasonable restrictions in the interest of general public or for the protection of any scheduled tribe. This law makes the restrictions imposed at this point of time maintainable.
There are some hospitals, where the COVID patients are treated negligently by not giving them proper information and reports regarding their stage of recovery or the disease, they are not taken care properly by providing the relevant and proper conditioned food. This attitude is increasing the spread of disease without any cure, creating confusion among people. In the wider interpretation of Article 21 it was held by the SC that, the right to health is a part and parcel of right to life & therefore are of fundamental right provided under Indian Constitution. Thus the basic fundamental right i.e. right to life is violated in this case.
Also the above mentioned problem of ill-treatment in the police custody is protected by Article 21 of The Indian Constitution which provides few sparkles of hope to the lives of arrested, under trials and convicts. It says the treatment of such people has to be humane and in the manner prescribed by the law. Thus in this pandemic situation, this right is also violated when we see in this perspective.
The problem of, firing workers during this crisis can be related to the Indian Labor laws. Labor law is a concurrent subject in the Indian Constitution, labor and employment regulation are governed at both the federal and state levels. The Industrial Dispute Act, 1947 mandates a 30-90 day notice period when terminating “workmen”. In the case of manufacturing units, plantations, and mines with 100 or more workmen, “termination for convenience” requires government approval; in other sectors, it requires only government notification. At federal level there is no provision for firing workers under such necessary conditions. But when it comes to state level, in some of the state labor law in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu-Under Karnataka Shops and Establishments Act, 1961 and the Tamil Nadu Shops and Establishments Act,1947, an employer cannot terminate an employee who has been with the enterprise for more than six months, except on the grounds of “reasonable cause”. In addition, an employer must provide one month notice. If misconduct is the cause for termination, no notice or associated payoff is required. Accordingly, to an extent after satisfying all the above conditions, firing of workers at such conditions can be accepted.
Analyzing all the crucial conditions faced, it is necessary for new legislative rules and regulations to be developed in order to serve the needs during such crisis and pandemic circumstances. Along with this people should also take responsibility of oneself and contribute to the government actions and plans, it may be a little change but collectively it helps in making such plans easily and quickly successful. Awareness should be spread by the concerned authorities to the population to work united towards the prevention of the difficulties and major problems faced. In order to improve health facilities, their should be transparency of communication between the hospital authorities and the government or the ‘concerned’ authorities. So, that the functions are carried on smoothly with keen foresightedness, effectively. The government should also consider the requests and the problems reported, with appropriate solution within the time span available for the same. The workers who are facing problem in getting job at this crisis must at least as a temporary solution be given subsidy facilities for affording basic needs, facilities must be provided for BPL family members in various activities such as education, business, etc; they should be trained with skills to reduce the no. of unskilled laborers and unemployment; once the situation improves, work opportunities for them must be increased to prevent poverty and country’s economic instability.
Author: Harshini P,
IFIM LAW SCHOOL(BBA LLB, 1st year)