Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi

[Coronavirus Lockdown] Messages raising false alarm will now attract 1 year jail time

Bar & Bench

Earlier today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the start of a 21 day, pan India lockdown starting from midnight to combat the spread of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

With it, the Government has also amped up the punishment applicable to the spreading certain fake information during this time.

In this regard, the Government has invoked the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

Two provisions of the 2005 Act are relevant in this regard, which have also been cited in the guidelines issued by the Government on how the country would function during the lockdown.

Section 54 penalises false warnings. This provision states,

“Whoever makes or circulates a false alarm of warning as to disaster or its severity or magnitude, leading to panic, shall on conviction be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to one year or with fine."
Section 54 (Disaster Management Act, 2005)

Further, Section 52 also penalises knowingly making false claims for obtaining any relief, assistance, repair, reconstruction or other benefits consequent to disaster from any officer is punishable with a prison sentence which may run upto two years, and also a fine.

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