The policy of home quarantine is one of the oldest mechanisms through which Governments of Different Countries used to control the spread of life taking viruses. Since the ancient times, the government and the monarchs have followed this mechanism of isolation, travel ban and making people quarantine.
These measures are imposed generally forcefully to the public because by this people lose their freedom to move and enjoy, but in order to public safety and to control the viruses this is only one effective measure which is adopted by the governments. There are many diseases in which this mechanism of home quarantine was adopted some of them are; SARS Virus, cholera, infectious TB, smallpox, viral hemorrhagic fever and etc. this gives proof that quarantine method is medically accepted theory to stop the spread of the pandemic.
The first-ever law is the history of medical isolation and quarantine was passed only in 1377 when the plague virus took the destructive face and destroyed the countries of European Unions. The detention for medical emergencies that time was justified by the government and the disobedience to it would be causing the JAIL to that person who has violated. That time it was prescribed for 30 Days isolation. The law which ordered the isolation for 30 days was called ‘Trentino’. Later many countries in order to save their people made the same law and enhanced it and made it a 40 days isolation which was renamed as Quarantine derived from Latin word quadraginta. Also is the United States of America in 1824 the Supreme Court bench led by Hon’ble Chief Justice John Marshall, affirmed the powers of the state to enact quarantine laws and impose health regulations.
The current COVID-19 crisis, with its closure of outlets, educational establishments and postponement of Governments examinations, has placed the individuals during a de facto quarantine. Notwithstanding, the question of whether or not a public authority or state will promulgate associate degree order for quarantine may be a legal issue.
When in 1990 an employee of Wildlife Federation was diagnosed with HIV and was removed from the post told to live in isolation- quarantine for 64 Days under the surveillance of Goa Public Health Authority under Goa Public Health (Amendment) Act, in such case the Hon’ble Bombay High Court felt that this is the serious issue and is infringement with the people liberty and enjoyment of life and infringement to the basic Human Rights, but the later the court acknowledged that this was a necessary step which was taken by the authorities at the situation for the public safety and health in the area. Such isolation, undoubtedly, has several serious consequences. It is an invasion upon the liberty of a person; it is an infringement upon the basic human right of the individual. It can affect a person very adversely in many matters, including economic conditions.
But in matters involving a threat to the health of the community i.e., pandemic, individual rights have to be balanced with the common public interest. In fact, individual liberty and public health are not opposed to each other but are well in accord. The reason told by one of the High Court of the country to uphold the quarantine was that even if there was a conflict between the right of an individual and public interest, the former must yield to the latter.
In the year 2014 when there was an outbreak of Ebola Pandemic, Kaci Hickox, a nurse and health worker who voluntarily rendered service to Ebola patients and returned to New Jersey, was quarantined in the U.S. It was opposed by her peers serving in public health. But the dreadful consequences of the disease, and the possibility of its spreading at an alarming rate, made the forcible isolation rational and reasonable.
In our country Republic of India, there has been an Act enacted by the parliament of the country that is Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, a colonial law, which is made to suggest the state to take special measures including the inceptions segregation of people (which justifies the improvement of 144) and other such steps which would be fruitful and helpful for the government to stop the spread of the disease. It was later Amendment by in Independent India in 1956 to give all the power to the central government to set the rules and regulations or impose any kind of restrictions in any one of the part or to all the parts of the country at a time to prevent the spread of hazardous disease, and we talk about quarantine theory it is not an alien theory or a new theory which is introduced by Modi Government it has been used many times during the time of smallpox and other diseases.
Now coming to the judicial perspective of this outbreak, on 30th March 2020 World Health Organisation issued a notification on public interest that this corona outbreak which started from Wuhan, China is a public health emergency of international concern WHO declared Corona Outbreak as a pandemic and issued interim guidance for the public interest. The notification issued permitted the quarantine and isolation of the people who are suffering from disease as well for those who are fit and fine to stop further spread of the disease. This notification was issued from the legal framework of International Health Regulations 2005. The notification of WHO also consisted of the difference between Quarantine and Isolation and also the houses which should be made a quarantine centre in the public interest.
Also in the United States Of America, the centre of diseases control and prevention act clearly mentions in its Rule 9 that the people who are right affected and are quarantined by a public health authority have right to seek judicial review. Previously such cases occurred in 1900 when Chinese citizens were quarantined which was later considered to be unnecessary so in order to stop such practices the court ordered the system of judicial appeal and judicial review.
Later in India, the Supreme Court took notice of the fear over the corona spread in overcrowded Indian Jails, on March 16, 2020. It was difficult to do social distancing in overcrowded jails of the country, where the occupancy rate is 117% where it is very easy for corona to spread rapidly among the criminals. Following the order later Kerala set up the isolation cells within prisons and Tihar Jail decided to leave criminals on parole and set a different ward for new criminals which was appreciated all over the country.
So one should conclude by stating the fact that although the quarantine rooms are airtight but the raise of judicial review can’t be exempted from it one or the other day raise of justice will fall onto it and will establish a new example of great justice and equality of the GREAT INDIAN JUDICIAL SYSTEM, were time taken for justice may be late but in the real sense, it is justice because in our judiciary no innocent is declared guilty and impart equal justice to all.
Kshitij Chandra Pandey (B.A. LL.B. Hons.)
INDORE INSTITUTE OF LAW