The Delhi High Court on Wednesday ruled that it is compulsory to wear a mask in a vehicle even when driving alone.
The Court stated that if the vehicle traverses through public places, there may be others who may risk exposure. "Wearing of a mask of a face cover in a vehicle, which may be occupied by either a single person or multiple persons, is... compulsory in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic," the order further said.
The judgement was passed by a Single Judge Bench of Justice Prathiba M Singh in a batch of petitions challenging the imposition of fines on those driving alone in their cars while not wearing a mask. All these petitions were dismissed as without merit, with the Court observing: "A mask is like a Suraksha Kavach for preventing the spread of the coronavirus. It protects the person wearing it as also the person who is exposed...wearing of masks has been one measure that has saved millions of lives," the court said.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of India, had informed the Delhi High Court in January that it has not issued any guidelines directing people to wear a mask while travelling alone in a vehicle.
The High Court dismissed writ petitions challenging the imposition of fines on persons by the Delhi government for wearing masks while travelling alone in private vehicles. The court noted that wearing a face mask is necessary whether a person is vaccinated or not. The court had reserved the verdict on February 17 in the matter.
Mask similar to 'suraksha kavach'
The High Court termed the mask similar to a 'suraksha kavach' (an armour) for preventing the spread of the coronavirus. "It protects the person wearing it, and also the person who is exposed...wearing masks has been one measure that has saved millions of lives", observed the High Court.
One of the petitioners, advocate Saurabh Sharma, had also sought compensation of his Rs 10 lakh, after he was fined Rs 500 for not wearing a mask. The court noted that petitioners were lawyers and they ought to recognise and assist in the measures to contain the pandemic, and they should not question the measures adopted.
(Inputs from wires)