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Imposition of Fines Proportionately Small in Areas Hit by Rise in Covid-19 Cases: Delhi HC to AAP Govt

Passengers wearing protective face masks stand in a queue on a platform to get tested for Covid-19 at a railway station in New Delhi. (Reuters)

Passengers wearing protective face masks stand in a queue on a platform to get tested for Covid-19 at a railway station in New Delhi. (Reuters)

Referring to the fines imposed, FIRs lodged and arrests made for violation of national directives for COVID-19 management, a bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad questioned the Delhi government's monitoring and marshalling efforts.

The Delhi High Court on Thursday noted that imposition of fines, for violating COVID-19 norms like social distancing and wearing masks, was proportionately small in areas where the number of coronavirus cases are on the rise. Referring to the fines imposed, FIRs lodged and arrests made for violation of national directives for COVID-19 management, a bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad questioned the Delhi government's monitoring and marshalling efforts.

The high court noted that only five arrests were made in the entire city between September 7 to November 16 for violating the norms and in south and south west Delhi, which were mainly hit by rise in COVID-19 infections, "the fines imposed for non-adherence was proportionately very small". The bench, during the hearing, also said the fines being imposed — Rs 500 for first violation and Rs 1,000 for every subsequent violation — did not appear to be a deterrent. The bench said any action that the government takes has to act as a deterrent so that people are more cautious and adhere to the norms.

However, as the administration was "lax" with regard to enforcing the norms, like wearing masks, people who were staying indoors and were being extremely cautious were getting infected due to the actions of those who were not careful.

"What kind of monitoring and marshalling are you doing," the bench asked the Delhi government while hearing a PIL by advocate Rakesh Malhotra seeking increase in the COVID-19 testing numbers in the national capital and getting speedy results. Delhi government, in its status report filed through additional standing counsel Satyakam, told the court that multi-organisational mobile teams have been constituted to enforce the COVID-19 norms and citizens found violating it were fined and a total of Rs 11.79 crore was collected between September 7 to November 16.

It also told the bench that during the same period Delhi Police, which was also challaning citizens for violating the behavioural norms, collected Rs 26 crore from fines. It further told the court that the enforcement teams were constituted to supplement the police which was primarily tasked with challaning citizens for violating the norms.


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