Question: The government and authorities have been ordering quarantine for Coronavirus infected individuals. Considering the right of individual freedom, is it valid to keep people under compulsory isolation? Discuss.
Answer: The last few days have seen government taking measures to contain COVID-19 infection by quarantining people with the disease. There have been cases where suspected patients have escaped from facility, requiring strict measures from the administration. This has brought on the debate about forceful detention.
The validity of quarantine
- Constitutional provision
Fundamental rights in India are not absolute, which means that they can be curtailed in case of public order and health issues. So it is fair that government is taking compulsory measures to isolate individuals, eventhough it may appear as invalid.
- Legislative provision
The government has invoked the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 to take stringent measures for implementing protective measures. This act provides administration with power to isolate individuals as well as take forceful measures to contain spread of disease.
- Ethical basis
The measures taken by government have ethical basis too with the underlying idea of public welfare. Considering the impact of the disease on lives of other citizens, it is absolutely necessary to implement quarantine measures.
Thus, in highly populous country such as India where there is very little margin for error and with low level of hygiene knowledge, it is appropriate that forceful measures are taken to contain the spread of the virus and reduce its impact on society.