Published: 17th April 2021
Welcome to Reason: Did Coronavirus just expose our lack of discipline?
As we find ourselves dealing with a second wave of the Coronavirus, John Monteiro wonders if the Indian public has been flouting rules made for our safety and good health
Discipline and united action are the real source of strength for the nation
Lal Bahadur Shastri (1904-1966) India's second Prime Minister
With the death and devastation of the Coronavirus pandemic still at our heels and with no end to it in sight, it has miserably exposed the lack of discipline among Indian citizens. This has led us to a second wave of pandemic-related death destruction. The government states rules through a plethora of circulars and citizens continue to do what they like. Here, we will consider two of the countless court interventions on the subject:
The Delhi High Court on April 7, 2021 ruled that wearing a mask while driving alone in a private vehicle is compulsory as it is a public place in the context of COVID-19. The court described the mask as a ‘suraksha kavach’ or protective shield against the spread of infection.
Justice Pratibha M Singh refused to interfere with the Delhi government’s decision to impose ‘challans’ for not wearing a mask while driving a private car alone, saying a vehicle, even if occupied by one person, would constitute a public place. Justice Singh’s ruling and observations came while dismissing four petitions by lawyers who challenged the imposition of ‘challans’ while driving alone in a private vehicle. Discerning readers will note that the lawyers tried to secure a private right against public good.
On the same date, the High Court of Karnataka directed the state government and the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to make surprise inspections at various establishments, including apartment complexes, in order to ensure the implementation of its directions for containing the spread of COVID-19. The bench pointed out that there has been an enormous increase in cases, especially in Bengaluru.
“There have been instances in the city where a large number of residents, in particular apartment complexes, turned positive (COVID-19) on account of functions held inside apartment complexes. It is therefore, all the more important for the state government and the BBMP to ensure that surprise inspections are undertaken in various establishments to ensure that the directions are followed”.
Once again, like lawyers, residents of apartment complexes belong to higher echelons of society and are expected to be more responsible and civic-minded than the common rung of citizens.