Gujarat HC: Refraining From Wearing Masks Shall Lead to Pinching of Pockets

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The Gujarat High Court observes the people being insusceptible to the fines levied on them for not wearing masks. The fines increased From Rs 200 to Rs 500 and now to Rs 1000 during the Covid-19 Pandemic. The order in the Suo Motu (taken up by the Court on its own) PIL was passed on July 24.

Issue Before the Court

Despite knowing the importance of masks, people are showing ignorance of the rules bestowed for their protection. Masks and face shields are the best preventive measures, the same recognized by decision-makers. But the people remain to show ignorance of the facts.

The High Court levied penalties on the people and this showed a rapid decrease in the number of violators. To be specific, the number of violators fell from 1630 to 390 on a daily average. But even having this 300-400 number of violations is enough to cause a wave in the area. This is intolerable if the main intention is to eliminate the virus. Moreover, even on knowing that a fine of Rs 200 to Rs 500 can be imposed on the violators, the people seem not to care much for the amount, and this led to another main issue.

Court’s Observation

The Court observed that the idea of a herd immunity clouds the minds of people. People are becoming relaxed and generating an idea that the community is gaining immunity altogether. However, the Court observed that this is far from true due to the exhaustive study conducted by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. The Court also observed that the masks prevent the primary spreading reason for the pandemic, droplets. Also, it remarked that people pay more respect to the fines than facts.

The Court also noticed that the children and the elderly were the ones most vulnerable to the disease. And since, the children are the responsibility of the parents, they were to be fined heavily if the children were ever found violating the law.

Court’s Decision

The Gujarat High Court mentioned that the State Government should not timid away from taking “certain harsh steps” and if only the deterrence theory proves to be the only one attracting attention, then that had to be taken. The government must also make sure that they do everything to fulfil this huge responsibility on their shoulders. Further, the HC said:

“In doing so, the government may have to take certain harsh steps and measures such as banning public and religious gatherings, hiking up the fines for disobeying mask laws, punishing those severely who try to profit off people’s illnesses”.

The High Court also informed the state government to raise the fines charged on people from Rs 500 to a minimum of Rs 1000 for not wearing masks. This fine should be standardized throughout Gujarat and shall be irrespective of any kind of division. Rikshaw drivers and shop keepers should be fined if the passengers and the customers are not wearing masks. During a social gathering, the host must be held responsible for the people attending if they were found violating the law.


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