The Bombay High Court on Tuesday agreed to hear a petition seeking a declaration that the collection of fines from citizens for not wearing masks by 'clean-up marshals' during COVID-19 lockdowns in Mumbai was illegal. .A Bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Makarand Karnik ordered the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to file its response in the matter by the end of June and posted the matter for further hearing in the second week of July.The Bench was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by activist Feroze Mithiborewala challenging the revised Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) issued by the Maharashtra government on March 1. As per the SOPs, unvaccinated citizens were disallowed from travelling in public transport and even prohibited to enter public places..On Tuesday, Government Pleader Priyabhushan Kakade informed the judges that the State has withdrawn all the restrictions. "All citizens are grateful for this Court's intervention," Advocate Nilesh Ojha appearing for the petitioner told the Bench. Chief Justice Datta then sought to know if everyone was permitted in public transport now. "Yes. Every restriction including masks etc has been withdrawn," Kakade told the judges. Ojha then pointed out that an aspect of his petition is yet to be decided."The other aspect is about the extortion and illegal collection of fines...They (authorities) claim to have done this collection (of fines) well within the rules...But there is no provision as such...They have recovered over ₹120 crore from citizens in Mumbai. Thus, the money should be paid back to the citizens as it was collected in breach of laws in this field," he said.To buttress his case, Ojha cited an order passed by the Supreme Court ordering the Uttar Pradesh government to refund the fines collected from those protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act..Chief Justice Datta then asked why the fines should be returned. "Why should they get back the money through a PIL? Why can't they themselves come and challenge the action initiated against them? Not all of these citizens who are fined by the civic body are poor people. There might be even rich people among these. So can't the rich come to court and seek the refund?"The Bench was then informed that 40 lakh city residents had been fined for not wearing masks. To this, the Chief Justice responded, "So in this number, how will you find out who is rich and who is poor? Take for instance 10 lakh are rich...then? Can't they come on their own?"Accordingly, Ojha revised his prayer and urged the Bench to at least declare that the fines collected were illegal, which the High Court said it can decide.