The Civil Defence Act was enacted by the Parliament on May 24, 1968 to formulate provisions for the subjects connected with civil defence. The Act contains 4 chapters and 20 sections. By virtue of the Act, ‘civil defence’ means any method employed for the safety of any person, property of a person, place or article situated or placed in India or within any part of the Indian Territory against any hostile violence, but does not include real combat. The violence shall be resorted from sea, land, air or any other area and such methods to prevent violence shall be taken prior or subsequent to the attack or even during the occurrence of the attack.
For the reason of protecting civil defence, the Central government is empowered under the Act to frame rules relating to the matters specifically provided under the Act:
- Avoid the prosecution of any vocation which may prejudicially affect civil defence;
- Train the public on the topic of civil defence and their equipments employed for civil defence;
- Provision for the preservation and storage of goods and articled needed for civil defence;
- Forbid and control traffic including the employing of vessels, lights, indications etc in ports and the territorial waters;
- Regulate noise and lights;
- Safeguard the life and property by arranging modes for preventing fire;
- Protecting structures, premises or other constructions from hostile violence;
- Demolish useless constructions or property to safeguard from dangers caused to life and property;
- Prohibit and control the holding and dumping of materials likely to explode, inflammable or dangerous materials, vessels, aircraft, materials used for photography or signals etc;
- Evacuate certain places including the property and animals and provide facilities for accommodation for the persons removed from;
- Seizure and safekeeping of wounded, unclaimed or harmful animals;
- Ensure the protection of ports, airports, railway, roads, bridges, post offices etc;
- Precautions taken by other officials other than for civil defence purpose shall be carried out within the limits of their authority;
- Restrict the publishing of any matters prejudicial to civil defence in any newspaper, documents, magazines etc;
- Regulate the conduct of persons in the areas protected by civil defence etc.
The Central Government is also authorized to frame rules for any of the purposes relating to civil defence wherever necessary. The contravention of the provisions of the rules formulated according to the Act shall be punished with imprisonment and fine. The Act provides for the constitution of Civil Defence Corps who shall be a District Magistrate or above his rank, by the State Government. The officer appointed by the State Government shall act as the Controller of the Corps. For the purpose of organizing the activities of the Controllers of the State, the State Government shall appoint Director of Civil Defence. The Corps shall be given a certificate of membership as a proof of appointment in the prescribed format. The functions of the corps shall be to take adequate actions for civil defence as consigned to them according to the prescribed rules or any other law. The Act also empowers the State Government to make orders or provide facilities for training to discharge the functions under the Act more effectively. Additionally, the Central Government is also authorized to formulate regulations for the proper implementation of the provisions of the Act.
The Act further states that where a personal service injury suffered by any member of the corps, such person shall be entitled to all the benefits and schemes as prescribed under the Personal Injuries (Emergency Provision) Act of 1962. The Civil Defence Act, 1968 was amended by enacting The Civil Defence (Amendment) Act, 2009. The amending act modified certain definitions including the words ‘disaster’ and ‘disaster management’ which has the same meaning as under the Disaster Management Act, 2005. The Central government has also framed The Civil Defence Rules, 1968 and The Civil Defence Regulations, 1968 to comply with the provisions of the Act.