The Delhi High Court has quashed an FIR registered against a person, who came from France in February 2020, for allegedly violating a home quarantine order in the wake of COVID-19 contagion in March 2020.
Justice Mukta Gupta said the very genesis of the prosecution case was faulty as the petitioner had arrived in the country on February 5, 2020, while the direction for home quarantine order was said to be issued on March 16 and the guidelines of the Central government on home/ institutional quarantine were applicable to the people who had come on or after February 15, 2020.
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, the judge said in her order dated October 12.
It is well settled that a restriction cannot be imposed retrospectively. The guidelines dated 24th March, 2020 were made applicable from 15th February, 2020. However, the petitioner had entered India on 5th February, 2020 and not on/or after 15th February, 2020.
“As per the charge-sheet, the petitioner violated the quarantine order dated March 16, 2020 which was in force till 30th March, 2020 when the guidelines were applicable to the people who had come on or after 15th February, 2020 the petitioner not falling in that category having entered India on 5th February, 2020. Thus, this Court is of the considered view that the very genesis of the prosecution case against the petitioner is faulted, the order added. The FIR was lodged against the petitioner for the alleged violation of Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 3 of the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897.
The court was informed that the FIR was registered after the call data record of the petitioner’s mobile showed that he visited various places in spite of a home quarantine direction and thus endangered the life of general public. Seeking quashing of the FIR, the petitioner submitted that when he returned to India on February 5, there were no orders directing mandatory institutional/home quarantine in force.
He informed that on March 14, a person representing to be from Health Department visited his residential premises and asked about his travel plans. Subsequently, while the FIR was registered in April, the petitioner came to know about its existence in December 2020 when a notice was served to him to appear before the concerned police station.
The petitioner said that a quarantine order cannot be invoked retrospectively that an FIR cannot be filed on the basis of the phone call details.
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