Other States

Gujarat Chief Justice concerned at non-compliance of COVID norms by public

Gujarat police keep vigil at Kalapur tower during the curfew in Ahmedabad. File   | Photo Credit: Vijay Soneji

Amid rising COVID-19 cases in Gujarat, Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court Vikram Nath lamented that even judges were travelling long distances to attend weddings at a time when everyone must be avoiding large gatherings.

“I am shocked! Judges are travelling 500-600 km to attend weddings. What can I say about the other public? My own judges are travelling. And it’s not their children or their brother or sister’s wedding,” the Chief Justice remarked during the hearing of an ongoing suo motu petition on non-compliance of COVID-19 norms by the public in the State.

The court expressed serious concerns and asked the State government about steps it was taking to ensure that the pandemic situation did not escalate and go out of control.

Hearing an application on penalty for not wearing mask, Chief Justice Vikram Nath, addressing government counsel, observed: “This is a very important issue. This mask business is not being strictly complied with or enforced by the State … that is the reason for the second revival of COVID-19 spike in the State.”

The court has asked the Principal Secretary (Health) to file an affidavit stating all steps the State authorities had taken and intended to take to contain the virus surge that was setting new records in cases per day.

‘Increase fine’

The court favoured a suggestion for increasing the fine for not wearing a face cover or a mask from ₹1,000 to ₹2,000. Another suggestion it favoured was to consider community service at COVID care centres for repeat offenders who did not wear masks, particularly in areas that had become hotspots of the disease.

Lawyer Vishal Antwani submitted that implementation of mask penalties in Gujarat was unsatisfactory and it was failing to create a deterrence among the public. He suggested that repeat offenders caught by the authorities be made to undertake community service in non-medical duties in COVID centres, so that they understand the gravity of the situation.

While asking the government lawyers their opinion, the Chief Justice observed: “Once you tell repeat offenders to visit a COVID centre for community service, they will remember to wear a mask all their life … I think this will have some deterrence.”

Gujarat on Friday recorded its highest COVID-19 case tally of 1,607 infections and 16 deaths, increasing its number of cases to 2,05,116 while the death toll has climbed to 3,938. There are now 14,732 active cases in the State while the number of patients discharged stands at 1,86,446.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2021 1:38:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/gujarat-chief-justice-concerned-at-non-compliance-of-covid-norms-by-public/article33196593.ece

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