Can you be penalised for not wearing mask in your car or solo-riding?


Team Udayavani, Sep 30, 2020, 4:43 PM IST

Mangaluru: The city corporation health department officials have been penalizing people for not wearing face masks in public places since the last few days. The MCC collected a sum of Rs 7,400 in the way of fines on Tuesday itself.

Earlier last week, Dakshina Kannada Deputy Commissioner Dr Rajendra stressed on the use of face masks, citing the increasing Covid 19 cases in the district. He also warned of revoking shop licenses if they are found violating Covid 19 norms on more than three occasions. Further, he mentioned that the non-wearing of masks would attract Rs 200 fine in cities and Rs 100 in other areas.

Following DC’s direction, MCC officials have been taking violators to task. Notably, motorists and vehicle drivers, even those ride/driving alone have been penalised for not wearing masks.

Meanwhile, questions have been raised on why people must wear a mask if driving/riding alone and why one must mandatorily wear a mask in a private car, which is not a public space.

The home ministry guidelines, dated August 29, as part of Unlock 4 mentions that wearing of masks is compulsory in public places, workplaces and during transport. In principle, it means that one must mandatorily wear a mask while stepping out since there is no clear directive from the home ministry on whether people can be penalised for not wearing a mask even when they are alone in a car, jogging or cycling.

However at a recent press meet (Sept. 3) Health secretary Rajesh Bhushan had stated that there was no directive from the health ministry that people should wear masks when they are driving a car without any co-passengers. He however went on to add that these activities are often conducted in groups and thus masks become mandatory.

Private car not a public space:

For those who have put forth this argument, it must be noted that the Supreme Court, in the 2019 case of Satvinder Singh Saluja versus the State of Bihar had ruled that a private car on a public road can be deemed a ‘public place’.

It was contended that smoking, drinking, obscenity, are examples of activities that could attract penal action even when taking place inside a personal car, which is on a public road.

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