Is Centre's lockdown announcement different from that of a state? Understanding the role of Article 254
New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The fifth phase of lockdown, also known as Lockdown 5.0, will end on June 30. The fifth round of lockdown extension came with several relaxations, with restrictions focused only on containment zones.
From June 8, shopping malls, religious places and markets were allowed to re-open, except those falling in containment zones. The revival of economy, which came to a virtual standstill due to the lockdown, is deemed as necessary even as COVID-19 cases continue to rise alarmingly across the country.
As Lockdown 5.0 is about to end, people are now anxious to know what the government decides amid the rising number of cases and deaths.
Tamil Nadu has already announced complete lockdown in four districts -- Chennai, Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur, and Chengalpattu - from June 19 to June 30 in view of the sharp spike in cases.
At this point, a question arises that if states can impose their own lockdowns, then what is the need for a national lockdown by the central government.
Constitutionally, subjects of law and order and public health lie with the state governments. This means that states can take steps related to the two matters.
Many states have ordered lockdowns under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1987, which empowers them to prescribe temporary regulations to prevent the outbreak and spread of a disease.
Following PM Modi’s announcement of 21-day nationwide lockdown on March 24, the Centre had cited “lack of uniformity is measures adopted by states as well as their implementation” as a reason for ordering the pan-India lockdown.
“While steps taken by State/UT Governments are in the right direction, lack of uniformity in the measures adopted as well as in their implementation, may not serve the objective of containing the spread of the virus,” read the notification by the Centre on March 24.
The lockdown was ordered through the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), under the powers under section 6(2)(i) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
“In compliance of the said Order of NDMA, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued an Order dated 24.03.2020 under Section 10(2)(l) of the Disaster Management Act, directing the Ministries/ Departments of Government of India, State/Union Territory Governments and State/ Union Territory Authorities to take effective measures for ensuring social distancing so as to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the country,” the notification read further.
The likely extension of the lockdown is also expected to be ordered under the said law.
Can a state defy Centre’s lockdown order?
While the central government has consulted all the chief ministers of the country, what if a state government refuses to abide by the Centre’s order on lockdown?
Times of India, in its report, has quoted experts saying that the Centre has an upper hand in ensuring that its orders are enforced.
Article 254 of the Constitution says that if there is any inconsistency between a law made by the Parliament and those made by states, then the law made by the central government shall prevail.
Posted By: Abhinav Gupta