FAQs: What is Curfew Pass & Do I Need It During COVID-19 Lockdown?

Different states have different rules on curfews during the coronavirus lockdown, and there is no uniformity.

Updated17 Apr 2020, 10:31 AM IST
4 min read

With coronavirus cases in India steadily increasing on a daily basis, the whole country is under a nationwide lockdown for 21 days, till the end of 14 April.

Despite the release of guidelines by the Centre about the lockdown, a lot of things aren’t entirely clear. The Quint will be trying to help you with the answers to your questions about the lockdown, from what you can or cannot do, to what you can do if the police are being overzealous.

In this set of FAQs, we try to understand the system of curfew passes, whether you will need one and how you can get them if required.

As states and local administrations are yet to clarify which places are under curfew and how the curfew passes work, this story will be updated as and when more information is available.

NOTE: In addition to these FAQs, you can find our summaries and the full text of the Ministry of Home Affairs’ guidelines, including what shops will be open and what essential services will continue to function, here.

What is a curfew pass and why might I need one? Will I need one to go buy essential supplies?

In places which have announced a proper curfew, like Delhi and Maharashtra, there is an official order that prevents people from going out of their homes, apart from certain exceptions.

In normal curfews (if you can use the expression), the restrictions apply after a particular time. So anyone out of their house post 6 pm, let’s say, would violate the curfew, but if you are out before that, there’s no problem.

When it comes to curfews relating to the coronavirus, however, several of these are curfews that apply throughout the day, not just after a particular point of time.

A curfew pass should not be required for merely going out to buy essential goods like food, milk or medicines, but you should check what your local authorities are saying. Going to see a doctor for a medical emergency is also a universal exception to the lockdown, and would not require a curfew pass.

Is there a nationwide curfew, and where can I find details about it?

As explained in another set of FAQs, while the lockdown was announced by PM Modi, it has not been imposed by the Centre per se. The actual measures to implement the lockdown have to be taken by state governments and local administration (your District Magistrate).

As a result, there are no uniform rules for curfew across the country. Delhi, Maharashtra and Puducherry are under full curfew, while other States/UTs had imposed lockdowns across most of their districts before the PM’s announcement.

Even the way the curfews work in the areas which have announced them is not the same, with different rules in each area. Telangana, for instance, has announced a night curfew, but not a daytime one. Punjab has relaxed its curfew for eight hours in the morning and afternoon for people to go buy essentials.

How do I get a curfew pass, if that is required?

For those providing essential services, the office/factory/shop/establishment/hospital they work for will need to go to the nearest police station and request the DCP there for a curfew pass.

This may not, however, be easy in all circumstances, as there is no uniform online process for this, requiring physically going to the police station in most cases. Reaching there for this purpose could in itself be difficult, and more so for smaller establishments.

So if I am one of these people providing an essential service, can the police demand a curfew pass from me? Or do they have to just let me do my work if I show some proof of what I do?

This depends on where you live and where you travel to for work.

In Delhi, for instance, people providing essential services have to have a curfew pass, issued by the DCP of the area where their workplace is. However, journalists and healthcare workers don’t need to obtain these, and can just show their IDs.

In general, showing a work ID as well as some sort of authorisation letter from your place of work should ensure you are able to go about your business, or at least avoid trouble with the police, but we need clarity across the country on this.

Can my government issue shoot on sight orders to make people stay at home, as Andhra Chief Minister KCR has threatened?

This would be absolutely illegal. A shoot on sight order would not allow the police to ascertain whether someone was out because of a medical emergency, or to buy essential goods or to provide an essential service – all of which are allowed (though in Goa you are not supposed to step outside to buy essential goods).

No such draconian measures can be resorted to by your government or local administration, and if they are, you can approach the courts to contest them.

Many courts are physically shut at this time, but measures are being put in place for e-filings and conducting hearings through video conferencing, so you should still contact a lawyer for help.

We'll get through this! Meanwhile, here's all you need to know about the Coronavirus outbreak to keep yourself safe, informed, and updated.

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Published: 27 Mar 2020, 05:17 AM IST

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