Indian Police Impose Fines on Motorists Without Masks, Even if Driving Alone


As the number of COVID-19 cases in India soars, the Union Home Ministry has said that it does not endorse the measures taken by the police to prosecute people not wearing masks when driving alone without passengers. In addition, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan has pointed out that the Ministry has not issued a directive that people engaged in activities such as jogging, cycling and exercising alone are required to wear masks.

The Ministry officials have distanced themselves from the actions of the police, as many across the country have started to question the logic of imposing fines on solo motorists without masks. “It is currently unclear whether the police will continue their zealous efforts, but there is very little point in this endeavor since obviously people can’t transfer the virus to themselves. When it comes to public transmission, the best we can do is keep our immunity up with nutritious food and supplements. That is at least until the vaccine is released, hopefully some time next year,” says a spokesman from Supplementscouts.

According to the Union Home Ministry’s directive for the containment of COVID-19, “wearing of face cover is compulsory in public places; in workplaces; and during transport.” Furthermore, a 2019 Supreme Court decision has ruled that a car in a public space is technically a ‘public place’. This is the directive that has been used by the police to justify the prosecution of motorists without masks, even when driving alone. 

Social media has not taken kindly to the heavy-handed approach taken by Indian police. In a similar manner, during the lockdown, police personnel kept blocking the transport of inter-state goods despite requests not to do so by the Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla.

While Delhi police initially stated that there was no need for solo motorists to wear masks, this approach gradually changed between June 29 and August 21. Under the rule of the Delhi government under the Delhi Epidemic Diseases (Management of Covid-19) Regulations, 2020, the police says an on-the-spot fine for not wearing a mask in public is Rs 500. In the capital alone, the police have collected Rs 9.42 crore from over 1.8 lakh people for not wearing masks in public.