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The Karnataka High Court recently declined to entertain a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the mandatory imposition of the use of face masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In its order, a Division Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Nataraj Rangaswamy opined that whether mandatory use of masks is right or wrong was for the respective experts to decide.
Karnataka High Court
Petitioner Krishna Murthy had contended that for Indian conditions, the use of face masks was "unscientific".
He had also challenged the restrictions on the movement of people from late evening to early morning as being illegal.
Quite strangely, the plea also made a reference to the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who had expressed an apprehension of threat to her life which was not heeded.
Citing this example, he submitted that the Central and state governments must nominate representatives who shall be easily available all the time to anyone who needs to communicate with them urgently.
In response to the prayer regarding restrictions on movement, the Court held,
"...The petitioner is not personally affected by these restrictions. He is of the view that weaker sections of the people will be affected. The directions issued by the Central Government and the State Government under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 are being modified from time to time. Therefore, if exigency created by onset of monsoon requires modification on the restrictions imposed on the movement of the citizens, both the Governments will have to take a call."
With regard to the final prayer, the Bench opined that the reference to Indira Gandhi's assassination has no relevance to the present situation.
It went on to note that both governments were working very hard to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, and in this view, the Court was unable to find fault.
Karnataka High Court
Moreover, the Bench highlighted that the state government had created helplines and publicised official email IDs of various departments.
While disposing of the petition, the Court lauded the petitioner for the efforts that he had undertaken for formulating certain suggestions in the matter.