A mask is compulsory even if a person is driving alone in a car, the Delhi High Court said today, terming the car a “public place”. The mask is a “suraksha kavach (safety armor) “for the person wearing it as well as those around, the court said.
Judge Pratibha M Singh announced the decision while hearing a case involving fines for not wearing a mask while driving alone.
“Even if you are alone in the car, why object to wearing a mask? It is for your own safety,” the judge said. “The pandemic crisis has increased. Whether a person is vaccinated or not, they should wear masks.”
This was the least anyone could do to be safe against Covid, she added, citing the advice of scientists and governments worldwide.
The court said when a car stops at a traffic signal, a driver often has to roll down their window. “The coronavirus is so contagious that even in that time, anyone can be infected,” it said.
The order is based on a petition by lawyer Saurabh Sharma, who approached the court challenging a Rs 500 fine he was forced to pay when he was driving alone without a mask and was stopped by the Delhi Police.
The Union Health Ministry had told the High Court that there was no rule that a lone driver had to wear a mask. But every state had the right to make its own rules and enforce them, the ministry had said.
Delhi’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government has argued in favor of masks for all in private or public vehicles and had also passed such an order in April last year.
The petitioner had said that though the Delhi government had announced the rule, the Union Health Ministry had said in a press conference at the time that it was not necessary for a person driving alone to wear a mask.
Two more petitioners had challenged Rs 500 fines they were charged for going maskless while driving alone. They had even asked for compensation for “mental harassment”.