Government invokes Disaster Management Act to enforce the 21-day countrywide lockdown

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The government has invoked the Disaster Management Act to enforce the 21-day countrywide lockdown that begins at midnight to check the spread of coronavirus. The Union home ministry released a list of offences that attracts imprisonment under the Act shortly after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a three-week lockdown.

If any person without any reasonable cause obstructs an officer or employee of the central government or state government or refuses to comply with directions given by or on behalf of the central or state government, shall on conviction be punishable with a jail term of up to a year or fine or both. In case of dangerous behaviour, the imprisonment can be for two years.

For making a false claim for obtaining relief or assistance, the punishment may extend up to two years in jail and a fine.

The offence of misappropriation of money or materials carries a jail term of two years and a fine.

The punishment for a false warning of a disaster is imprisonment for up to a year and a fine.

As far as offences by government departments are concerned, the head of the department will he held guilty of the offence and shall be liable to be punished accordingly unless he proves that the offence was committed without his knowledge.

A Government officer can be imprisoned for up to a year and fined for failure in duty or connivance in contravention of the provisions of the Disaster Management Act.

If an offence is committed by a company, every person who at the time of the offence was in charge of, and responsible to the company, as well as the company shall be deemed to be guilty of contravention and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.

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