‘Suraksha Kavach’: Delhi HC Says Mask Mandatory When Driving Alone

Delhi HC dismissed pleas challenging imposition of challans for not wearing a mask while driving solo in a vehicle.

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The wearing of a mask even while driving alone in a private vehicle is mandatory during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Delhi High Court observed on Wednesday, 7 April, as it dismissed the petitions challenging the imposition of challans for not wearing a mask while driving solo in a personal vehicle.

"The wearing of a mask is like a 'suraksha kavach' (protective shield) for preventing the spread of COVID," a single judge bench of Justice Pratibha M Singh noted.

“Even if you are alone in the car, why object to wearing a mask? It is for your own safety... Scientists and international governments advise wearing of a mask. The challenge of the pandemic was enormous and wearing of face masks is necessary whether a person is vaccinated or not.”
Delhi High Court, as quoted by reports

Even if a vehicle is occupied by just one person, it would be a public place, the court further observed.


What Did the Delhi Govt and Centre Say?

The Delhi government had earlier told the court that an office order from April 2020 was still in effect, mandating wearing of mask while driving a personal or an official vehicle. It further argued that private vehicles fell in the public realm, reported PTI.

Meanwhile, the Union Health Ministry had said it had not passed any direction calling for people to wear masks while driving solo, while pointing out that health is a state subject and putting the onus on the Delhi government to decide in this regard.

The observation of the high court comes as the the country, including the national capital, sees an alarming surge in the number of daily coronavirus cases in what is being called the second wave of the pandemic in the country. On Wednesday, the country reported 1,15,736 new coronavirus cases, taking the tally to 1,28,01,785. The death toll increased by 630 to 1,66,177.

This is the biggest one-day rise in cases in the country ever since the pandemic began.

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