'Shocking': SC notes Guj got Rs 90 cr 'mask' fines but Covid rules lax

Updated December 15, 2020

social social social social 'Shocking': SC notes Guj got Rs 90 cr 'mask' fines but Covid rules lax
New Delhi, Dec 15 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed shock after learning the Gujarat government has collected around Rs 90 crore in fines for not wearing face masks, yet it was not able to enforce the guidelines on Covid-19-appropriate behaviour.

A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan and comprising Justices R Subhash Reddy and M. R. Shah told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, what about implementation of mask wearing protocol and social distancing measures, but he replied that only fine can be a deterrent.

Justice Bhushan said crores have been collected as fines and cited Gujarat has collected Rs 80-90 crore as fines. "Isn't it shocking?" he asked.

Mehta replied Rs 500 fine was not enough to be a deterrent.

The top court also asked the Centre to give a break to doctors who are continuously engaged in hospital duties amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The bench noted that doctors are working without a break and they should get a break after continuous service. Mehta replied the government will take this into account. The bench noted that continuous working amid the pandemic might be very painful and this may affect their mental health too. Mehta assured that the government will consider court's suggestion.

The observation from the top court came during the hearing of a suo motu case on proper treatment of Covid-19 patients and dignified handling of dead bodies in hospitals.

Earlier, during the hearing, the top court, pointing out responses from various states, said none of them have stated the number of hospitals where fire standards protocols are being followed. "Some of them talking about 2016," it said and Mehta agreed that it is not a rosy picture.

After a detailed hearing in the matter, the bench posted the matter for Friday.

On December 9, the Supreme Court had expressed displeasure at repeated constitution of committees to probe the fire incidents at two private Covid hospitals in Gujarat's Rajkot and Ahmedabad, and directed the state to file a report on these incidents by December 11.

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