Article 134 - Quarantine: Medical Breaking
Paragraph 100 of the Manual for Court Martial deals with breaking a medical
quarantine. The text of statute under Article 134 says that all neglects
and disorders which are adverse to the discipline and good order in the
armed forces, all conducts that can bring discredit to the armed forces
or offenses or crimes not capital, can be punished by convening a court martial.
Elements of the offense
- The accused was ordered into medical quarantine by a certain person.
- The person who ordered the accused to enter medical quarantine was authorized to do so.
- The accused was aware of the medical quarantine and the limits it imposed on him.
- The accused broke the limits of the medical quarantine, before he was released
from it by the proper authority, and
- In these circumstances, the accused's conduct was adverse to the discipline
and good order in the armed forces or the nature of the act brought discredit
to the armed forces.
Maximum punishment for breaking medical quarantine
The maximum punishment that can be imposed on a service member for breaking
a medical quarantine without the permission of the authority who imposed
it on him, is 6 months of confinement and forfeiture of 2/3
rd of pay every month, for 6 months.
More on medical quarantine and its importance
If it is suspected that a certain individual has been exposed to a certain
pathogen, he may be quarantined for a certain interval of time and observed
for symptoms. Note that a quarantined individual is asymptomatic at the
time of being quarantined.
Quarantine fulfills two purposes. First, the chain of transmission is stopped
because the individual is not in social circulation. So the chances are
less that he will infect others if he is carrying the pathogen. Second,
those individuals who start showing symptoms can be identified and directed
towards the appropriate medical facility. Medical practitioners have a
moral obligation to prevent the infected individual from transmitting
the pathogen to other people, if it can be done. This is the rationale
behind quarantining a person. Note that quarantine has to be specific
to the health danger posed by the individual to other people.
An example to see how a service member may be charged with this offense
Consider that during a routine medical test, a service member is found
to be infected with AIDS. Note that AIDS is not a disease like measles
or mumps, which can be spread by casual contact or air. AIDS cannot be
spread by the carrier's mere presence (it is usually spread through
a sexual act).
In the case of service members, who are HIV positive, the armed forces
have provided sexual regulations which are deemed necessary to protect
and promote welfare, health and combat readiness among the soldiers. The
armed forces sees deterrence as an important tool to meet the AIDS menace.
So, the person who provides the service member with preventive medicine
counseling on AIDS, is expected to
specifically tell the service member, to sexually segregate himself from other people.
In this case, the person was authorized to do so. In other words, the
clearly ordered to go into medical quarantine.
If the soldier was not explicitly told to do avoid unprotected sexual activity
and if he engages in it, then he cannot be charged with breaking quarantine.
However, preventing medical counseling can be construed as a military
order. If the soldier disobeys it, he can be charged with another offense,
that of disobedience, under Article 90.