As Maharashtra continues to grapple with the second wave of COVID-19 with the lower sections of the society bearing the economic brunt due to the restrictions imposed by the state government, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday asked the Maharashtra government to consider using a part of the fines collected from the people not wearing masks or not following COVID protocols, to distribute sanitisers and masks to the persons from the lower sections of society.
This suggestion from the High Court came after they were informed by the state government that the fines collected from the people for not wearing masks were used by the disaster management department towards procurement of resources to combat COVID-19.
The high court was hearing a PIL seeking a uniform policy for the collection of fines throughout the state for not wearing masks and also suggested the use of special masks for persons with speech and hearing disabilities. The next date of hearing on the matter is scheduled for May 6.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni said, "The high court was informed by the government that the fines collected from the people for not wearing masks were used by the disaster management department towards COVID-19 related resources. You (government and other civic bodies) may also utilize this fine amount collected to provide masks to the homeless people and beggars or to those persons who are living under the poverty line so that they need not purchase."
The bench asked the government to direct authorities to carry out a drive ensuring that every person wears a mask. The High Court also urged the government to look for ways for vaccinating people who do not have any electronic devices to register themselves for vaccination.
Chief Justice Datta said he has seen people in Malabar Hill (south Mumbai) going for jogging or early morning walks without masks while adding that there were a high number of COVID-19 cases in Malabar Hill high rises.
These people do not care about their own lives and put others also at risk, Chief Justice Datta said while adding that the police or civic body marshals should step up their drive against this.
Maharashtra continues to be the worst affected state in the country. As per the latest reports from MoHFW, in the past 24 hours, 51,880 new COVID-19 cases and 891 deaths have been reported in the state, taking the total infections and fatalities to 48,22,902 and 71,742 respectively.