It is a matter of grave concern that politicians, statesman, elected representatives and political figures of our country can be seen on TV screens & social media in violation of physical distancing norms and without proper masks on their faces. Are they immune from Covid-19 or have they been secretly vaccinated against Covid-19? Since none of the questions can be answered in affirmative, their untoward behaviour is inexcusable specially because they are role models for the common man.

The Karnataka High Court on 23 June directed the state government to ensure that strict action is taken against political figures and elected representatives who cause violations of social distancing norms since they are not above law. The Bench directed in strict terms for stricter enforcement of the advisory issued by MHA and observed thus:

“State must ensure that strict action is taken against every one who is violating the directions of authorities. Especially against political figures and elected representatives. If action is not taken it will send a wrong signal.”

The bench categorically directed the state government to set up a grievance redressal mechanism, within 1 week, where citizens can lodge complaints about violation of norms through phone, email, SMS or whatsapp. The Court allowed  the facility of uploading photographs and directed the state to ensure the complaints reach the concerned authorities who are under obligation to take prompt action. The Court also asked the government to give wide publicity to the same.

The Court also directed the state government to book the offenders  under section 51 and 54 of the Disaster Management  Act and section 188 of IPC. The  Court showed concern that besides  SHO who has been authoritized by the state, the other district authorities “are not absolved of setting law in motion in the event, offences are noticed.” Thus the entire administration has been given the responsibility of ensuring compliance of the physical distancing norms and putting face masks as directed.

The bench has also directed all the state officials to take penal action of collecting spot fines in different parts of the state immediately so that the norms are followed religiously, meticulously & effectively. It is pertinent that as per the government orders in Municipal limits, Rs 200 fine can be levied on people not wearing face masks and Rs 100 in the rural areas of the state. The Court directed for  stricter implementation of guidelines issued by MHA & the State government and for making the people follow the  Standard Operating Procedures(SOP) for safety issued by them.

In view of the rising Covid infections, the Court issued strict directions thus:

“It will not be in any dispute that stringent measures need to be taken by all the authorities. During the last few days the cases in the city have started multiplying very fast. Complete lockdown in four areas in Bengaluru for 14 days has been announced. Considering the manner in which the pandemic is spreading in some districts of the state, very strict implementation of various directions is called for in the state.”

The Court’s directives are a wake up call for the other states to follow because the conditions in every state is almost similar. It is hightime the political figures and elected representatives to exhibit restraint and to follow the safety guidelines & advisory thoroughly so that the common man emulate them.

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April 2021