The Bombay High Court on Wednesday observed that during the ongoing pandemic, the special needs of speech and hearing impaired persons were not considered by the government while imposing the mandate of wearing masks.
Through the plea filed by Lokshahiwadi Balasaheb Sarode Smriti Prabodhan Upakram, through Advocates Asim Sarode and Ajinkya Udane, it was submitted that hearing impaired persons relied upon the movement of lips to identify words.
The plea also suggested that the masks worn by the specially abled persons should have some sort of identification mark in the form of a sticker to enable easy identification.
Agreeing to this, the Bench of Justices SP Deshmukh and GS Kulkarni remarked that given the fact that the pandemic will continue, everyone had indeed forgotten that there should be special masks for speech and hearing impaired people for easy recognition.
Another aspect raised in the plea was that there seemed to be no uniform policy for collection of fines throughout the State for not wearing masks as per COVID-19 protocol.
The plea stated that different corporations had different fines and even the police imposed fines on people for not wearing masks.
“It is mindless, irrational fine imposing process happening all over Maharashtra under the name of safeguard to be taken on account of spreading corona virus…,” the plea stated.
The petitioners also argued that too many authorities imposing fines on violators for not wearing masks puts the citizens in a vulnerable position.
“High amounts collected as fine have become a burden on common people who are already in duress due to lockdown.”
The Court asked the State to also respond why there cannot uniform collection of fines and why every corporation couldn’t have its own policy.
Additionally, the plea also sought for an audit into the fines collected by the authorities throughout Maharashtra, with a direction to the municipal corporations to utilise the said amount for social welfare.
After the State sought for time to respond to the queries, the Court adjourned the hearing to next week.