The state government claimed that it found itself in the position of Prince Hamlet in Shakespeare’s play and referred to the soliloquy, “To be, or not to be…”, saying it was not in a position to take a decision or frame a modality on the proposal to impose community service at Covid care centres for those repeatedly found not wearing masks.
The state government’s submission came in relation to a suo motu PIL concerning Covid-19 issues at the Gujarat High Court Tuesday.
An advocate appearing as party-in-person had earlier proposed that apart from penalising those found moving without masks, they should be sent for community service at Covid centres to create an effective deterrence. The matter was taken up by the division bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice JB Pardiwala.
Advocate General Kamal Trivedi, appearing for the state government, acknowledged during the hearing that though the issue of people repeatedly flouting the rule for wearing masks requires to be addressed, the government is unsure of how “post-implementation” of such a rule would be taken care of by the government. He said, “position of the government my lord, is just like that of the Prince Hamlet in Shakespeare’s play…”
“The anxiety is not about the implementation but the post-implementation… to be very candid, to share an example, suppose four people were found without masks… to give them a challan and ask them to go for community service and then to see to it that each of them went for the community service, to keep a track thereafter… government is seeing how this can be effectively implemented…” Trivedi said.
The court held that the “crucial time” to take a decision in this regard is “now”.
Justice Pardiwala added that if the situation can be controlled at this point, “the state may find good results within the next two to three weeks”, and said there has to be “an agency” to ensure that a defaulter renders community service at the designated spot. “The whole idea in mind is to create deterrence,” Justice Pardiwala said.