The Bombay High Court on Monday asked Mumbai's civic body to explain the provisions of law under which it had made masks mandatory and fined people for not wearing them during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Division Bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Madhav Jamdar was hearing two petitions seeking a refund of fines collected by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) from people who violated the mask rule. The pleas also sought a probe against former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray for alleged misappropriation of public funds during purchase of vaccines and for forcing people to get vaccinated during the pandemic.
Maharashtra's counsel S.U. Kamdar informed the court that the Supreme Court had recently noted that the vaccination drive by the Centre was not arbitrary and justified given the pandemic. Therefore, the Thackeray government cannot be questioned and prosecuted for the same.
The court said, “If a notification was issued by the BMC that in order to contain the pandemic, people have to wear masks and a fine would be imposed for not wearing them, then it was for achieving greater good and the court will not interfere."
However, the court also directed BMC to address the court on the Epidemic Diseases Act, under which the government has power to take special measures during an epidemic.
The Bench posted the matter for further hearing after two weeks.