28 June 2021
The Constitution further states under Article 73 and 162 that the executive power of the Union and states is “coextensive with the legislative power”.23 Thus, from the constitutional scheme, the state governments are expected to play the primary role in the management of healthcare, as well as law and order, while the Centre is tasked to provide the overarching national leadership, facilitate coor. [...] The Centre declared the pandemic as a “notified disaster”, and cited24 the Disaster Management (DM) Act, 2005,25 in particular, to impose the nationwide lockdown on 24 March 2020.26 As the word “disaster” is not present in the Seventh Schedule, the Centre used its residuary powers27 to invoke the law and to issue various directives to the states as the pandemic situation aggravated. [...] It forced both the Centre and states to resort to ordinances, and use the IPC and other provisions to make up for the constitutional and legal deficiencies.31 As the crisis loomed large in early March 2020, the Centre and the States invoked two laws: the Disaster Management Act, 2005, and the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897. [...] While states were suffering financial shock due to the lockdown and other disruptions, the Centre delayed the release of the GST incomes for several months; this pushed the states to issue dire warnings.49 Second, with the pandemic causing the drying up of public coffers and the states seeking additional revenues to meet their exigencies, the arbitrariness of the Centre became more visible.50 The. [...] A combination of triumphalism for managing the first wave, a sense of complacency, and lack of urgency in the beginning of the second wave, compounded by missing federal leadership and the breakdown of trust and cooperation between the Centre and states—all led to the gross mismanagement of the pandemic and a momentary virtual collapse of the State.