The difference between lock down, curfew and Section 144
- A lock down is when there is a restriction on assembly but essential services are still available.
- Section 144 is when assembly is prohibited under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
- A curfew is when Section 144 is imposed along with essential services shut down.
- Citizens cannot be arrested without cause during a lock down but can be booked under Section 188 during a curfew.
Bhaskar Rao, the Commissioner of Police in Bengaluru, told India Today that lock down and curfew are one and the same thing.However, there’s a key difference between how the authorities can act in each situation.
|Movement||No passes required||Special pass required|
|Essential services||Available||Only emergency services available|
|Exemptions||List of exemptions available||Very few exemptions|
|Mass gatherings||Prevents public gatherings||Can only gather to avail essential commodities during relaxation|
|Violation||Can lead to legal action||Strict legal action|
In most states a full lock down has been implemented. This means that Section 144 has been imposed, but essential services are still available. In states where there is a curfew, only emergency services like hospitals are allowed to operate.
What is a lock down?
A lock down can be enforced by a Collector or Chief Medical Officer in their particular area under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897. This gives them the power to restrict the assembly of 5 or more people in close quarters.
However, essential services like hospitals, banks, ATMs, grocery stores, vegetables, and milk shops will still be open. In some cities, hotels may also be allowed to operate and there are no restrictions on the media.
Under a lockdown, the police do not have the power to arrest anyone who is violating the lockdown without the court’s permission. They can issue a warning and advise the people to head home.
If the person gets adversarial, the police does have the right to arrest them under Section 269 and 270 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). If someone were to escape from quarantine, the authorities can book him under Section 271 of the IPC.
What is Section 144?
Section 144 of the IPC restricts the congregation of 5 or more people within a particular area. Under the law, anyone found in violation will be booked for disobeying a public servant under Section 188.
What is curfew?
Curfew is when the power is with the Collector and the Police Commissioner. In addition to Section 144, all essential services are also shut down. Aside from emergency services like hospitals — banks, ATMs, grocery stores, vegetables and milk shops will all be shut.
Only administration and police personnel are allowed on the street. Once the curfew is implemented, the district administration is exempt from action.
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