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On Delhi Government’s Mask Order While Driving Alone, Court Says “Absurd”

Corona NewsOn Delhi Government's Mask Order While Driving Alone, Court Says "Absurd"


On Delhi Government's Mask Order While Driving Alone, Court Says 'Absurd'

On mask in car order, Delhi High Court asked, “Why don’t you withdraw it?” (Representational)

New Delhi:

The Delhi High Court Tuesday termed as “absurd” a Delhi government order making it compulsory to wear a mask while driving alone in the context of COVID-19 and asked why the decision was still prevailing.

“It is a Delhi government order, why don’t you withdraw it. It is absurd actually. You are sitting in your own car and you must wear the mask?” the bench said.

“Why is this order prevailing? Take instructions,” a bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh told the Delhi government counsel.

The observation by the bench came when the counsel representing the Delhi government shared an incident of a man being challan-ed for not wearing a mask while sitting in his car along with his mother and sipping coffee with windows up.

During the hearing, senior advocate Rahul Mehra, representing the Delhi government, said the high court’s single judge order of April 7, 2021, which had refused to interfere with the Delhi government’s decision to impose challans for not wearing a mask while driving a private car alone, was “very unfortunate”.

“Somebody sitting in the car with rolled-up windows and being challan-ed for Rs 2,000. That single judge order is very unfortunate,” he said, adding that when the DDMA order was passed the situation was different and now the pandemic is almost over.

When the bench reminded him that the initial order was passed by the Delhi government which was then challenged before the single judge, Mr Mehra said be it the order of the Delhi government or central government, it is a bad order and needs to be revisited.

When he said the division bench should set aside the order, Justice Sanghi said it can only consider the issue when the order will be brought before it.

“If that order is bad why don’t you withdraw it,” the bench said.

The single judge’s 2021 order had come while dismissing four petitions by lawyers who had challenged the imposition of ‘challans’ for not wearing a mask while driving alone in a private vehicle.

It had said that wearing a mask while driving alone in a private vehicle is compulsory in the context of COVID-19 and had described the face covering as a ‘suraksha kavach‘, or protective shield, against the spread of the infection.

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, the single judge had 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.

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had told the court that it has not issued any direction asking people to wear masks in a car when they are alone and that health is a state subject and the Delhi government has to decide on it.

The Delhi government had told the court that wearing masks while driving an official or personal vehicle was made compulsory through an office order in April 2020 and it remained in force. It had also said a private vehicle was held to be a public place by the Supreme Court.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)


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