With the rise of COVID-19, the pandemic has heavily affected the country. As the world tries to release itself from its tantalizing grip, the usage of maskshas become extremely common. However, it is quite sorrowful to report that a large chunk of people is still not complacent with the CDC rules and usage of masks. Recently, Advocate Saurabh fell prey to one such individual.
On September 9th, the advocate with over 20 years of practice in the field was driving to his office, when he was asked to haltnear Geeta Colony by the Delhi Police. The officials photographed the petitioner and asked him to vacate the car. The petitioner stated, “On inquiry, the Petitioner was informed that since he was travelling in his car without wearing a mask, he will be fined for a sum of Rs 500 under the offence of not wearing a mask in public place.”
Upon hearing the alleged charges against him, the petitioner began to explain that he was driving along, hence an offence was committed. This did not move the officials, and resulted in a challan being issued against the petitioner. With a lot of protest, the Petitioner paid the fine. Soon after, the Advocate filed a suit against the officials contending that “unjust and illegal stopping” and “extortion” of fine caused “huge mental turmoil and harassment” Hon’ble Justice Navin Chawla has issued a notice to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Delhi Government, Delhi Disaster Management Authority and the police that sought their take on the petition which urged the court to quash the petition seeking compensation of Rs 10 lakh for “mental harassment suffered by the petitioner” along with a refund of the Rs 500 fine. The pettioner also contented tat a challan could not be issued as he did not commit any offence. A private vehicle, in which the petitioner was travelling alone cannot be considered a “public place.” The petitioner also submitted that, “…wearing a mask while sitting alone in the car is not a hazard to anyone’s health and safety but wearing it all the time even when a person is alone is certainly a health hazard for oneself.” The petitioner also stated that no executive order has been passed that directs citizens to wear a mask while travelling alone. Thus, the officials cannot levy fines from the public on that regard. Thus, any fine that has been levied is also liable to be quashed. The petition also submits, “When people get overcrowded in shops neither are the shopkeepers fined nor the errant customers. However, if people like Petitioner while travelling alone in their car fail to keep the mask on their face, the Respondents fine them immediately and that too without any authority of law.