The Delhi High Court on Wednesday said it is compulsory for people to wear a mask in a private vehicle even if they are driving alone during its decision dismissing several pleas challenging the imposition of fines by the Delhi government on persons for not wearing a mask while driving a private vehicle alone. The single judge bench of Justice Prathiba M Singh ruled that a private vehicle on the roads is also covered under the definition of a public place.
“A mask acts as a suraksha kavach (protective shield) which would prevent the spread of the deadly virus,” Justice Prathiba M Singh said, recalling that several experts, doctors and researchers have emphasised on the need to wear face masks right from the early days of the pandemic.
The high court also rebuked four lawyers who petitioned the HC last year against fines imposed by the Delhi Police for violating the mask rule, stating that compliance by lawyers encourages common people also to wear the masks that helps to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease.
The judge further added, “Even if you are alone in the car, why object to wearing a mask? It is for your own safety. When a car stops at a traffic signal, a driver often has to roll down their window. The coronavirus is so contagious that even in that time, anyone can be infected”.
With the cases of coronavirus rising again across the country, the Delhi High Court has made the mask compulsory for everyone. The court said in its order that even if the person is alone inside the vehicle, they will have to wear the mask. It has now become mandatory regardless of the number of people travelling. She further added added that everyone should wear a mask regardless of their vaccination status. The judge also said that this is the least that anyone could do to be safe against COVID.
Petitioner demanded Rs 10 lakh for mental harassment
Petitioners approached the court and stated that during a press conference, the Centre stated that there was no need to wear masks while alone in private cars. One of the petitioners also sought a refund of Rs 500, the amount he paid after he was challened for not wearing a mask along with Rs 10 lakh as compensation for alleged mental harassment.
No rule to wear a mask
During the hearings, Union Health Ministry had informed the High Court that there is no such rule by the central government. There is no rule that someone driving alone has to wear a mask. However, the state governments have the right to make and amend rules and enforce them to stop the spreading of COVID-19.
Though the Delhi government argued in favour of masks for all in private or public places. It said that a DDMA order was released in April 2020, necessitating the wearing of masks while driving private cars regardless of the number of people in a car.
Delhi government has also imposed an night curfew in the national capital starting from April 6 and extending till April 30 because of the COVID-19 resurge. Public movement has been barred from 10 PM to 5 AM with only exception of those carrying the e-passes.