Restrictions cannot be imposed retrospectively once well settled: High Court of Delhi.
Section 188 in The Indian Penal Code deals with Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant which states that whoever, knowing that, by an order promulgated by a public servant lawfully empowered to promulgate such order, he is directed to abstain from a certain act, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both, Section 3 in The Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 deals with Penalty. Any person disobeying any regulation or order made under this Act shall be deemed to have committed an offence punishable under section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860).This concept was often misused due to lack of guidance and averments the landmark judgement given by single Judge Bench lead by JUSTICE MUKTA GUPTA in the case of SARMAD AHMED V. STATE OF NCT OF DELHI & ORS. (CRL.M.C. 1681/2021) explained the above issue.
In this case the petitioner left India for France on 19th October, 2019 and returned back to India on 5th February, 2020. Much after the petitioner came back to India from France on 5th February, 2020, the Government of India on 12th March, 2020 issued guidelines in the wake of Covid-19 situation thereby asking people to follow mandatory quarantine norm of 15 days for those who had travelled to and from China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, France, Spain and Germany. On 7th April, 2020 the above noted FIR was registered against the petitioner under Section 188 of the IPC, Section 3 of the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897. It was noticed that on 19th, 20th, 23rd March, 2020 and many other times he violated the condition of home quarantine, visiting various places without informing the competent authority, thereby endangering the life of general public. On 25th March, 2021 the petitioner was served with a notice under Section 41A of CRPC to appear at PS Madhu Vihar on 27th March, 2021 at 4.00 PM. On 2nd July, 2021 summons were issued to the petitioner. On 7th July, 2021 the petitioner received a phone call from PS Madhu Vihar asking him to collect the summons, hence the present petition.
The Hon’ble High Court of Delhi after analyzing the facts and averments made on this case, “The very genesis of the prosecution case against the petitioner is faulted. Besides the conflicting stands in the charge-sheet and the status report, the fact that once the guidelines issued on 24th March, 2020 were applicable for people entering India on or after 15th February, 2020 the same could not have been given further retrospective operation for the petitioner who had arrived in the country on 5th February, 2020, therefore the petitioner cannot be subjected to the prosecution for the offences as mentioned above. Consequently, the FIR and proceedings pursuant thereto are quashed.”
Judgement Reviewed by Pratikshya Pattnaik