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Shameful that people take ‘pride’ in wearing masks below chin and blame govt for rising Covid cases, says Bombay HC in suo motu PIL

The Court said that it was compelled to pass orders making use of helmets and masks compulsory, 'as if it is only government duty to protect citizens and that citizens owe no duty towards themselves or their family members

People line up for the coronavirus vaccine in Mumbai. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool, File)

The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court raised concerns over people not wearing masks or helmets properly saying that it is ‘quite shameful’ that citizens are unable to discipline themselves and find it easy to blame the administration and the police for rise in Covid-19 infection instead of being responsible themselves.

“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,” HC noted.

A division bench of Justice Ravindra V Ghuge and Justice Bhalchandra U Debadwar made these observations while hearing suo motu PIL initiated based on news reports, to address issues of funeral rites of Covid-19 patients, shortage of medical oxygen supply and black marketeering of Remdesivir among others.

The HC said that even though authorities may not have taken enough steps to strictly implement Covid-19 restrictions, wearing masks, covering nose and mouth at crowded places and use of helmets is compulsory and there cannot be relaxation on the same.

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Referring to news reports, the Court said that some people appear to take ‘pride’ in hanging the masks below the chin, keeping nose and mouth uncovered, and same is the case with helmets, which are ‘hung on the rear side of the motorcycle so as to immediately wear it the moment traffic police constable is seen by the rider from a distance.’

“With this backdrop, each citizen desires to blame police and administration for the rise in Covid-19 patients. It is quite shameful that we are unable to discipline ourselves and we find it very easy to blame the administration for being infected with the coronavirus due to our own acts,” it added.

The Court said that it was compelled to pass orders making use of helmets and masks compulsory, ‘as if it is only government duty to protect citizens and that citizens owe no duty towards themselves or their family members.’

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“We observe that administration, including police authorities, shall strictly implement Covid restrictions and ensure that any person found on street should be wearing a mask, no matter what position he or she occupies in the society and with same strictness, use of helmets shall be implemented.”

 

After it was informed that Nandkumar Ghodele, former mayor of Aurangabad had allegedly celebrated his birthday by violating Covid-19 restrictions, the bench said, “We are surprised that the people’s representatives, who are expected to be leading from front and aspire to be ideal role models are taking pride in celebrating their birthdays publicly.”

The Court further said that use of firewood for funeral pyres be reduced by adopting ‘eco-friendly’ ways to dispose of dead bodies. It appealed industrialists, philanthropists, NGOs to come forward to contribute towards establishing LPG or electric crematoriums and said that public representatives are expected to use constituency development funds for erecting such crematoriums.

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The bench also directed the primary health centres (PHCs) and rural hospitals to increase rapid antigen tests (RATs) for people from villages, to ensure that instant Covid results are made available to them by saving time required for collecting RT-PCR samples and sending them to cities. Instant RAT results would help in immediately shifting positive patients to Covid facility for treatment to ‘save their lives,’ HC said.

HC will hear suo motu PIL next on Wednesday, May 12.

First published on: 07-05-2021 at 01:35:18 pm
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