FPJ Legal: Strictly implement COVID-19 restrictions in Marathwada region, Bombay HC directs Maharashtra Police

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court bench of Justices Ravindra Ghuge and Bhalachandra Debadwar on Friday expressed displeasure over citizens failing to comply with Covid norms and wearing masks.

The HC has ordered authorities including the police to "strictly" implement the Covid norms and take action against citizens for not wearing masks properly.

The bench was hearing a suo moto criminal PIL, it had taken up last month owing to the Covid crisis in the Marathwada region.

On Friday, when the matter was called out for hearing, the bench noted that some media houses have reported how citizens continue not to wear masks.

"It appears that people take pride in hanging mask below chin & same is case with helmets, which are hung on the rear side of the motorcycle so as to immediately wear it the moment a traffic police constable is seen from a distance," the bench noted.

The judges, accordingly, said that it was unfortunate that citizens are being asked to follow norms for their own safety.

"It is unfortunate that people have to be advised to protect themselves and at times have to be penalized so as to make it compulsory for them as if they have no responsibility to themselves," Justice Ghuge observed.

The bench further said that despite not following norms citizens end up blaming the authorities for the Covid crisis.

"Each citizen desires to blame police and the state administration for rise in Covid patients. It is quite shameful that we as citizens are unable to discipline ourselves and we find it very easy to blame the administration for being infected with Covid virus due to our own acts," Justice Ghuge remarked.

The bench added that it isn't only the government's duty to protect citizens but in fact even citizens owe a duty to protect themselves and their family members.

"The state administration including police shall strictly implement Covid restrictions and ensure that any person found on public street should be wearing a mask, no matter what position s/he occupies in society and with same strictness, use of helmets shall be implemented," the judges added.

During the hearing the bench was informed that recently a former mayor of Aurangabad was seen celebrating his birthday in violation of Covid norms.

Irked over this, the bench said, "We seriously fail to understand as to why the people’s representatives, who are supposed to lead from front are celebrating their birthdays publicly and even breaching the protocols?"

Meanwhile, the bench noted that citizens from rural parts of various districts get panicked and go to cities for conducting the RT-PCR tests. "Thus, we are of the opinion that the authorities must increase the rapid antigen tests at rural hospitals so that the tests results are made available to them at the earliest and they won't have to wait for days altogether for their reports. This would also ensure timely treatment for such citizens," the judges opined.

Further, the bench ordered industrialists, philanthropists and even NGOs to come forward for contributing towards setting up LPG crematoriums. Another directive has been issued to local corporators, MLAs etc to use constituency development funds for installing electric/LPG crematoriums in the region.

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Free Press Journal