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Even a single person in a car will have to wear mask: High Court

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With the COVID-19 cases rising again across the country, the Delhi High Court has made the mask compulsory for everyone. The court said in its order that even if the person is alone inside the vehicle, they will have to wear the mask. It has now become mandatory regardless of the number of people travelling.

Judge Pratibha M Singh announced that the mask is a “suraksha kavach” or safety armour for the person. Since private vehicles are regarded as a public place when it is on public roads, everyone travelling in the car should wear a mask.

The decision was made during a hearing of petitioners who had challenged fines issued to them for not wearing masks while being alone in the vehicle. The judge also asked the petitioners why object wearing a mask, even if you’re alone in the car. She added that everyone should wear a mask regardless of their vaccination status. The judge also said that this is the least that anyone could do to be safe against COVID. She also cited the advice of scientists and governments worldwide.

Giving an example, Justice Pratibha said that when the car stops at a traffic signal for the green signal, drivers often have to roll down the windows. The COVID-19 is contagious and even that small window opening can infect them.

Lawyer Saurabh Sharma is one of the three petitioners who approached the court challenging the Rs 500 fine. Saurabh was forced to pay Rs 500 when he was driving alone in the car without a mask. He was stopped by Delhi Police and a challan was handed over to him.

No rule to wear a mask

During the hearings, Union Health Ministry had informed the High Court that there is no such rule by the central government. There is no rule that someone driving alone has to wear a mask. However, the state governments have the right to make and amend rules and enforce them to stop the spreading of COVID-19.

Delhi’s government argued in favour of masks for all in private or public places. The government also passed a rule last year in April that makes the masks mandatory for everyone regardless of the number of people in a car.

Apart from Lawyer Saurabh, two more petitioners had challenged the Rs 500 fine that they received from the cops for not wearing a mask. In fact, they even asked for compensation for “mental harassment”.

The High Court orders also say that the number of COVID-19 cases is rising at an alarming rate across India. In Delhi alone, 5,100 fresh cases of coronavirus were recorded. Across India, a total of 1.15 lakh new COVID-19 cases have been recorded in the last 24 hours. Such a  high number of cases were not recorded since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.