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Set up dedicated team to enforce COVID-19 norms in Bengaluru, says HC

The High Court of Karnataka on Friday directed the State government to set up a dedicated team of officials for Bengaluru city to strictly enforce the norm of compulsory wearing of masks and maintaining social distancing in public places.

The court also directed the government to impose an additional condition of compulsorily wearing of mask/covering the mouth and nose with a cloth and maintaining social distancing while granting permission for holding rallies, processions and demonstrations under the Licensing and Controlling of Assemblies and Processions (Bangalore City) Order, 2008.

It said a dedicated team was essential as it was impossible for the mere 198 marshals of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), whose main task is to prevent people from throwing garbage in public places, to enforce COVID-19 regulations in a city with a population of around 1.3 crore.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Ashok S. Kinagi issued the directions which was hearing a PIL petition filed by Letzkit Foundation. It also noted that the participants of various rallies and demonstrations were contributing to the norm violations.

Directing the government to set up the dedicated team before October 28, the Bench said the government must entrust a specific area to a specific member of the team.

Whenever permissions are granted for rallies and more under the licensing order of 2008, the government should deploy certain police personnel with the task of ensuring that the participants strictly adhere to the norms, said the Bench.

The Bench also noted that public servants such as sub-inspectors of police, assistant sub-inspectors of police, head constables, panchayat development officers, gram panchayat secretaries, and municipal bill collectors were among those authorised by the law to collect spot fines from people not wearing masks and not maintaining social distancing.

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