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COVID-19 Lockdown as a National Emergency: A Constitutional and Legal Perspective

Third Year Student, BA LLB (Hons), Christ (Deemed to be University), Bangalore

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc across the world and one year into the pandemic. It is essential to look back into the 'national emergency' situation that prevailed during March, April and May in 2020. The pandemic came as a shock to the entire nation putting administration as the whole set up of the country into shambles, considering that India had never seen such a situation earlier since the birth of the constitution. The Government of India was in a fix to understand the situation that the country was in to remedy the situation and ensure that law and order are maintained. The lockdown was one means to control the spread of the disease, but what needs to be answered is the legal and constitutional justification of the same. Analysing the lockdown from a Constitutional standpoint, the relevant articles of the Constitution are Article 352 and Article 360, respectively. Article 352 speaks about the power of the President to declare an emergency when he is satisfied that the security of India on any part of its territory is threatened by war, external aggression or armed rebellion, and Article 360 provides for the declaration of a financial emergency when the President is satisfied that "the financial stability or credit of India or of any part of the territory thereof is threatened". This paper provides a detailed constitutional perspective of the lockdown and the pandemic. The paper brings forth a right to health perspective and emphasises the need to incorporate the right to health as an absolute fundamental right in the Indian Constitution. This research study is purely qualitative, with a doctrinal methodology being adopted. A review of secondary material is of prime consideration in terms of obtaining inputs for addressing the research questions elucidated above.

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