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COVID-19 norm violations: Government tells HC celebrities, leaders have been fined

After being questioned about the non-imposition of fines on celebrities and political leaders for not wearing mask in public places, the State government on Monday told the High Court of Karnataka that the police had, on November 7, collected fines of ₹250 each from several of those who had violated the COVID-19 norms during rallies and election campaigning.

A statement in this regard was submitted before a Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice S. Vishwajith Shetty during the hearing of a PIL petition filed by Letzkit Foundation, Bengaluru.

Fines were imposed on Lok Sabha member Tejasvi Surya, Congress leaders Siddaramaiah, D.K. Shivakumar, actor Darshan and others. While Mr. Surya and several other BJP party workers had to pay fines of ₹250 each for violating the norms during a rally held on September 30, the Congress leaders and Mr. Darshan had to pay up for violations while campaigning for the R.R. Nagar byelection recently.

The government also told the court that complaints were lodged against these leaders for violating the norms.

The Bench said there were legal issues in the laws related to enforcing norms such as wearing of mask and maintaining social distancing. It pointed out that those violating these norms could technically be booked under provisions of the Karnataka Epidemic Diseases Act and the Disaster Management Act, and could be charge-sheeted.

The government counsel said that registering FIRs against all those not wearing mask and failing to maintain social distancing would be impractical, given that between 6,000 and 7,000 people have been fined for not wearing mask in Bengaluru city alone.

The Bench adjourned further hearing on the matter till November 12.

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