Bengaluru: In a surprise submission, the Karnataka government on Thursday told the High Court that it has no intention to prosecute Bangalore South Member of Parliament Tejasvi Surya and other political leaders for not wearing a mask while in public space.
In an affidavit, the government said it does not intend to pursue further action against violators of the mask and physical distancing rule under the Karnataka Epidemic Diseases Act as it is the uniform policy to not inflict 'harsh punishment'. A fine of Rs 250 for urban areas and Rs 100 for rural areas is deemed as sufficient punishment.
But the bench headed by Chief Justice AS Oka was not impressed. The bench observed that once a person furnishes the fine amount, they admit to committing the violation, and the state government’s failure to prosecute them has serious consequences. The state government has been urged to put its statement on record on the next date of hearing.
The government’s refusal against prosecuting violators was intended only to protect politicians, the bench said. Even opposition leaders like Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) President DK Shivakumar were also found guilty of the same violations.
The bench is hearing a petition filed by advocate Ramesh Puthige raising allegations that directives for Covid-19 management laid down by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) were not followed or implemented in Karnataka.