Seven states including Odisha, Punjab, Maharashtra, Telangana and Tamil Nadu have already extended their respective lockdowns till the end of the month- 30th April, according to reports.
The central government is yet to disclose its decision as the Prime Minister is set to address the nation at 10 AM tomorrow. The question is, if some states have already announced a lockdown, what is the need for a national lockdown?
Let us take the example of a school here for demonstration. A school has a principal who is responsible for the entire school while there are also class teachers who are responsible for their respective grades.
When a class teacher establishes a rule, it is restricted only to his/her classroom. However, when a principal establishes a new rule, it is followed by the whole institution, including individual classes, in order to maintain uniformity.
Similarly, states operate individually and the subjects of law, order and public health lie with state governments. Hence, the power of taking a decision in respect to these two issues (law and order and public health) falls in the hands of the state government.
The Epidemic Diseases Act of 1897 gives the state the authority to establish temporary rules and regulations to prevent the outbreak and spread of the disease.
On the other hand, the central government plays the role of the principal. Their intervention becomes extremely important when states aren’t on the same page and there is a difference in their way of functioning.
Even if the states disagree with the centre’s decision, they will have to follow it, regardless. Therefore, the states have the power to impose a lockdown but cannot defy a national lockdown.