The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday directed the state government to punish those found not wearing a mask with community service at a Covid care centre.
The direction came a day after the court said it found itself in a Hamletian dilemma over giving nod to the community service proposal. On Tuesday, the state government said that while it is keen on implementing the proposal, it would be a mammoth task to ensure proper implementation.
A division bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice JB Pardiwala on Wednesday directed the government to “come out with a notification under the relevant statute” mandating community service for those violating Covid safety protocols, including face covering and social distancing. Follow Coronavirus India LIVE Updates
“The duty should be non-medical in nature and can include activities such as cleaning, housekeeping, help in cooking and serving the food, preparation of record, data feeding, etc. The nature of the duties given shall be appropriately decided by the authorities, considering the age, qualifications, gender and health status of the violator,” the court said.
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The court stipulated that the community service should be for a period ranging between 5-15 days, as the authorities deem it fit, and for at least 4-6 hours a day.
To have the desired deterrent effect, the court said, instances of violators imposed with community service should be widely publicized in the media, including social, electronic, digital and print media. The court has further sought that a status report be filed before the next date of hearing – December 24 – on the compliance with these directions.
In a detailed 13-page order, the bench also listed the benefits of imposing community service, stating, “The violators turn out to be a great resource for the state government/administration/non-governmental organisations. It provides an opportunity to the offender/violator to have a first-hand experience of the injuries caused or could be caused by him. It gives a constructive means of repairing the wrong done by him. It also gives an opportunity to the violator to improve and become more responsible.”
The court also observed that while they had expected the state government to take a stand with respect to community service and proactively work towards it, the state failed to do so. “We had expected the State to come up with a solution to this problem which is increasing day by day. However, instead of taking a stand on the issue, the State has declined to address this issue. Such stand of the State is unfortunate considering that it is the State which is required to act in the most proactive manner in such times. The stand of the State has left us with no option but to issue certain directions, considering the gravity and enormity of the situation,” the order read.