The Delhi government Wednesday defended its decision before the Delhi High Court to make wearing of masks compulsory in personal or official vehicles and said a personal vehicle cannot be said to be a “private zone”.
While referring to a judgment passed by the Supreme Court in July 2019 in a criminal case pertaining to drunken driving, the government said the Supreme Court has held that a car or any other private passenger vehicle “shall be deemed to be a public place in view of the fact that when a private vehicle is passing through a public road, it cannot be accepted that the public have no access to it. It is true that the public may not have access to such a private vehicle as a matter of right but the public have the opportunity to approach the private vehicle while it is on the public road.”
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The reply was filed on behalf of the government by Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) East in a petition filed by a lawyer against a challan and the imposition of Rs 500 fine on him for not wearing a mask while travelling alone in his private vehicle.
The petitioner Saurabh Sharma is also seeking compensation amounting to Rs 10 lakh in view of the alleged mental harassment.
The court in the reply was also told the decision to make masks compulsory in public places was taken in April as part of the measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 and the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) guidelines are “very clear cut” that “any person” moving around in his personal or official vehicle must wear masks compulsorily.
The counsel representing the petitioner earlier submitted that the Centre has clarified that a person driving alone in a car is not required to wear a face mask.
The case was adjourned for hearing on January 7 after the counsel representing the Union ministry of health sought time to apprise the court about its current position.
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