New Delhi: A Delhi-based lawyer has approached the Delhi High Court demanding a refund of the Rs 500 fine imposed on him for not wearing a mask while he was driving the car alone, along with Rs 10 lakh as compensation from government authorities “for publicly causing mental harassment” to him.
In his petition, lawyer Saurabh Sharma says he was issued a challan on 9 September by the Sub-divisional Magistrate (East), Delhi, even though he was driving alone.
“On 09.09.2020 about 11 am, while on his way to office, Petitioner’s car was stopped near Geeta Colony by the officials of Respondent No. 3 Delhi Police. One Police Constable Mr Arora took the photo while the petitioner was still sitting in his car and directed him to alight from the car,” the petition submits.
It states that Sharma demanded to see the executive order mandating the wearing of masks while traveling alone in a private vehicle. However, while the authorities couldn’t show him any such order, he was made to pay the fine amount of Rs 500.
Sharma has, therefore, demanded that the challan be quashed, the Rs 500 fine be refunded and he be paid compensation as well.
He further contends that “fines are levied on the general public of the city by the Respondents without any authority of law and hence liable to be quashed by this Hon’ble Court”.
The petitioner has also sought a direction to the authorities to stop them from levying fines against anybody for not wearing a mask while travelling alone.
‘Personal vehicle while traveling alone not a public place’
In his petition, Sharma has submitted that the offence described in the challan is that he not wearing a mask at a public place. He, however, asserts that his “personal private vehicle while traveling alone is not a public place”.
“It is a private zone and hence the requirement of wearing a mask while travelling alone cannot be equated as not wearing a mask at a public place.”
Sharma has also referred to the clarification by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare that it has issued no guidelines directing people to wear a mask while travelling alone. The clarification was made during a press conference earlier this month.
He has further submitted that with the partial lifting of the lockdown, several public places are crowded, with people flouting the mask and social distancing rules.
“When people get overcrowded in shops neither are the shopkeepers fined nor the errant customers. However, if people like Petitioner while travelling alone in their car fail to keep the mask on their face, the Respondents fine them immediately and that too without any authority of law.”