Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, April 5
As India recorded a spike of more than one lakh Covid-19 cases in a span of 24 hours on Monday, the Punjab and Haryana High Court was told that failure to adopt effective steps for inculcating mask etiquette among the people bordered on the violation of their right to life and liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.
As the issue came up for resumed hearing before the Bench of Justice Rajan Gupta and Justice Karamjit Singh, the amicus curiae or the friend of the Court Rupinder Khosla submitted that the State’s inability to enforce necessary measures also amounted to infringement of the people’s rights. He added Covid protocol, issued by Government of India, was required to be strictly followed.
Faced with the situation, Haryana Additional Advocate-General Deepak Balyan prayed for additional time to seek instructions from the State Chief Secretary. Accepting his prayers, the Bench fixed the case for further hearing later this week.
The Bench has already asked the State of Haryana to specify whether punitive provisions were required to be incorporated in the instructions on the issue for initiating action against persons “endangering their own life and those of others by wearing mask in a casual manner”.
The Bench also asked the State counsel to also specify the measures being taken to implement in letter and spirit the instructions issued by the government on mask etiquette. It also made it clear during the course of the hearing that mask etiquette were required to be injected to the public along with the vaccine to beat Covid.
The directions came on a petition filed against the State of Haryana and other respondents by Rishi. His counsel had told the Bench that the petitioner, a jail inmate, was tested positive for Covid on December 27, 2020. As a result, he was taken to quarantine centre in Sector 12, Panchkula.
Thereafter, the petitioner did not receive attention from the medical authorities. With jail no bar for Covid infection, the Bench hearing his petition had called for details regarding the availability of masks for the inmates. The petitioner was put back in jail after he recovered, but the Bench made clear its intent to continue with the matter after holding that “a larger question has arisen during the course of hearing”.