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Wearing mask compulsory even while driving alone during pandemic, says HC

Wearing a mask while driving alone in a private vehicle is compulsory as it is a public place in the context of Covid-19, the Delhi High Court held on Wednesday and described face covering as a ‘suraksha kavach’ or protective shield against the spread of the infection.

Justice Prathiba M Singh refused to interfere with the Delhi Government’s decision to impose challans for not wearing a mask while driving a private car alone, saying a vehicle even if occupied by one person would constitute a public place.

“There are several possibilities in which while sitting alone in the car one could be exposed to the outside world. Thus, it cannot be said that merely because the person is travelling alone in a car, the car would not be a public place.

“Wearing of a mask therein would be compulsory in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic,” the court said. Masks are necessary irrespective of whether a person is vaccinated or not, it added.

Justice Singh’s ruling came while dismissing four petitions by lawyers who challenged the imposition of ‘challans’ for not wearing a mask while driving alone in a private vehicle.

“The wearing of a mask is like a ‘suraksha kavach’ against Covid-19,” the court said, noting a mask protects the person wearing it and also those exposed to him or her.

The wearing of a face mask was “one measure which saved millions of lives” during the pandemic, it pointed out.

The court further noted in its verdict that upon the outbreak of the pandemic, globally as well as nationally, scientists, researchers, international organizations and governments emphasised the importance of wearing facial masks to control the spread of the disease.

“In the absence of a complete definitive cure, the world continues to wrestle with the pandemic. The challenge of the pandemic was enormous at the outbreak of the same and even with the introduction of a few vaccines, the emphasis continues to be laid on wearing face masks. The wearing of masks is necessary irrespective of whether a person is vaccinated or not,” it said.

The lawyers, in their pleas, had contended that the District Magistrates who were vested with the powers to impose fines could not have sub-delegated the powers to others.

Disagreeing with the contention, Justice Singh said that the definition of ‘authorised persons’ being inclusive and expansive in nature, District Magistrates were also vested with powers to further authorise any officers to issue challans.

Thursday, 08 April 2021 | PTI | New Delhi

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