By LE Desk

Mumbai, May 8: The Aurangabad bench of Bombay High Court has said it was unfortunate that people have to be penalised to get them to wear masks.

A division bench of Justices R V Ghuge and B U Debadwar, hearing a bunch of petitions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, yesterday said the problem with citizens was that they were unable to discipline themselves.

The bench noted that people wear masks below their chin leaving the nose and mouth open.

“It is unfortunate people have to be advised to protect themselves and, at times, have to be penalised so as to make it compulsory for them to protect themselves, as if they have no responsibility towards themselves and their family members,” the court said, as reported by news agency PTI.

The court said, despite this, each citizen likes to blame the police and administration for the rise in COVID-19 cases. “It is quite shameful that we are unable to discipline ourselves and find it very easy to blame the administration,” it said.

The court said it was compelled to pass orders making the use of masks and helmets (for two wheelers) compulsory as if it is only the government’s duty to protect citizens and that citizens owe no duty towards themselves or their family members.

The court directed the administration, including the police, to strictly implement COVID-19 instructions and ensure that any person found in public streets not wearing a mask is penalised.

The bench also took note of media reports of a former mayor of Aurangabad, Nandkumar Ghodele, celebrating his birthday by violating restrictions and said the photographs published in newspapers show the mayor being fed with sweets by several persons who were not wearing masks.

The court was informed by the chief public prosecutor D R Kale that an offence was registered in this connection.

Kale said a case was also registered against MLA Sanjay Shirsath for organising a ‘bhoomi pujan’.

“We are surprised that people’s representatives, who are expected to lead from the front and should aspire to become ideal leaders and role models, are taking pride in celebrating bhoomi pujan and their birthdays publicly by violating COVID-19 restrictions,” the court said.

It posted the matter for further hearing on May 12.

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