Tamil Nadu

Did Governor authorise fine for flouting of COVID-19 safety norms, asks HC

The Madras High Court on Wednesday wanted to know whether the Governor had approved a government gazette notification issued on September 4 for the collection of fines ranging from ₹200 to ₹5,000 for issues such as violation of quarantine measures, failure to wear masks, non-adherence to physical distancing norms, spitting in public places and so on.

Chief Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy raised the query during the hearing of a public interest litigation petition filed by R. Muthukrishnan, 77, of Ramapuram here, with a plea to declare the notification as illegal. The litigant claimed that the notification had been issued by the Health Secretary without the sanction of the Governor.

When State Government Pleader V. Jayaprakash Narayanan sought some time to obtain instructions, the judges adjourned the case to Thursday. In his affidavit, the litigant said Section 76(2) of the Tamil Nadu Public Health Act of 1939 was amended recently, empowering government officials to enforce certain acts required to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The amendment did not declare non-adherence to such norms as a punishable offence that could be compounded. Yet, the government, through the gazette notification, declared them to be offences which could be compounded on payment of fine.

The petitioner claimed that the notification, which was in the nature of a subordinate legislation, had been issued by the Health Secretary and not by the Governor, though it claimed the latter had exercised his rule-making power under Section 138A of the Act and permitted the executive authorities to compound the offences.

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Printable version | Nov 28, 2020 1:30:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/did-governor-authorise-fine-for-flouting-of-covid-19-safety-norms-asks-hc/article32967537.ece

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