The Bombay High Court asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to explain the logic behind imposing fines for violation of mask mandate during the COVID-19 pandemic under the learned bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Madhav Jamdar in the case of Sohan Rajeev Agate & Anr. v. State of Maharashtra & Ors. with Connected Matter (CRPIL/4/2022)
FACTS OF THE CASE:
Nilesh Ojha, an attorney representing the petitioner, claimed that by rescinding the order requiring the wearing of masks, the state government had effectively conceded that it was against the law.
The state’s senior attorney, S. U. Kamdar, argued that the BMC, not the state government, had collected fines for violations of the mask mandate. The order was revoked not because it was against the law but rather because better Covid conditions made it unnecessary.
Petitioners had also challenged the restriction on unvaccinated persons from availing public transport. However, in an earlier hearing the court had closed this issue in light of withdrawal of COVID-19 restrictions w.e.f. April 1, 2022.
OBSERVATION OF THE COURT:
Chief Justice Datta questioned the BMC on the legal justification for making masks mandatory and fining those who don’t comply.
The CJ stated that if the government had required masks for the greater good, the court would not interfere.
The Epidemic Diseases Act of 1897, Section 2, was the foundation upon which the court ordered the parties to debate. The court additionally stated that it would not get involved in the matter if the BMC had issued a notification requiring mask use in order to reduce the number of COVID instances.
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Judgement reviewed by – Sudarshana Jha