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Old 15th June 2021, 16:39   #1
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Default Can I challenge a 'not wearing mask' fine?

Along with Covid-19 came a new fine for Indian citizens - fine for not wearing a mask. Concerning this thread, I want to focus on the situation when an unmasked single driver in a private car with all windows rolled up is liable to pay Rs. 2000.

Here in Delhi, the rule is being enforced by thousands of 'Civil Defence Volunteers' (CDV) mostly youngsters who will quickly snap a picture of your unmasked self behind the windscreen, take your ID and whip out a challan. I have found them very unreasonable compared to Delhi Police and fiercely loyal to the Chief Minister's handling of the pandemic.

Without getting into a discussion on the effectiveness and scientific reasoning of this policy in controlling the spread of Covid-19, the ethicality of this imposing this policy, the deployment of funds collected through this fine or the method of enforcement of this fine, I want to start a discussion on how you and I can challenge this fine if we are issued one?

For reference, I was issued a Rs. 2000 challan recently when I briefly pulled down my mask for drinking water. My ID was demanded first and then Rs. 2000. Wary of the recent spike in 'Mask fine' scams perpetrated by rogue CDVs, I requested for a challan receipt from the CDV instead of paying on the spot. The CDVs were were wearing an ID card and lanyard of Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) but as we have seen such IDs can be easily faked.


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https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities...le33815321.ece

Can I challenge a 'not wearing mask' fine?-image_20210615_163428.png
https://indianexpress.com/article/ci...bbery-7349168/

Here is a copy of the challan which was issued to me after obtaining a signature on it and the CDV taking a photograph of the signed copy. The challan was issued from the office of Sub Divisional Magistrate (Hauz Khas), Office of District Magistrate (South), New Delhi.

Can I challenge a 'not wearing mask' fine?-image_20210615_161839.png

It instructed me to pay the fine in cash at the above office or via bank transfer and submit proof of receipt of the payment along with the copy of the notice to the above office within three days or face an FIR/charges under section 188 of IPC without further communication.

I tried to verify the authenticity of the challan and the bank details by Tweeting to Delhi Police but there was no response.

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https://twitter.com/iamitp/status/14...818241550?s=20

The email id on the challan was missing an 's' but to be honest, that could be a genuine drafting error. I chose to pay Rs. 2000 via NEFT to the mentioned bank account and email the receipt and copy of the challan to the correct email ID (found on the District website) while marking a copy to the DM (South Delhi).

Now coming to the point of starting this thread.

- I would like to ask Legal experts and professionals on this forum if there is a reasonable mechanism for a citizen to challenge such an issued challan?
- Would basic human need such as drinking water be considered legal valid grounds for removing mask?
- What is the correct method for verifying that the challan is being imposed by a legally empowered authority and not an imposter?
- What legal action am I liable for if I refuse to hand over my ID for generation of challan? Or refuse to stop when signalled by a CVD? Can I be prosecuted under Motor Vehicles Act based on my car's registration number?

I would like to underline that the objective of starting this thread is not to rant about the 'Mask fine' or report its imposition (same has been done on a different thread), but to rather crowdsource legal mechanisms and remedies for challenging the imposition of such challans in a reasonable manner when we feel it has been imposed under unreasonable circumstances.
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Old 15th June 2021, 18:01   #2
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Default re: Can I challenge a 'not wearing mask' fine?

Quote:
Originally Posted by iamitp View Post
Along with Covid-19 came a new fine for Indian citizens - fine for not wearing a mask. Concerning this thread, I want to focus on the situation when an unmasked single driver in a private car with all windows rolled up is liable to pay Rs. 2000.

Here in Delhi, the rule is being enforced by thousands of 'Civil Defence Volunteers' (CDV) mostly youngsters who will quickly snap a picture of your unmasked self behind the windscreen, take your ID and whip out a challan. I have found them very unreasonable compared to Delhi Police and fiercely loyal to the Chief Minister's handling of the pandemic.

...

Now coming to the point of starting this thread.

- I would like to ask Legal experts and professionals on this forum if there is a reasonable mechanism for a citizen to challenge such an issued challan?
- Would basic human need such as drinking water be considered legal valid grounds for removing mask?
- What is the correct method for verifying that the challan is being imposed by a legally empowered authority and not an imposter?
- What legal action am I liable for if I refuse to hand over my ID for generation of challan? Or refuse to stop when signalled by a CVD? Can I be prosecuted under Motor Vehicles Act based on my car's registration number?

I would like to underline that the objective of starting this thread is not to rant about the 'Mask fine' or report its imposition (same has been done on a different thread), but to rather crowdsource legal mechanisms and remedies for challenging the imposition of such challans in a reasonable manner when we feel it has been imposed under unreasonable circumstances.
As a lawyer, I would only be able to answer the relevant points -
1. Is a car a public space - Unfortunately, the Delhi High Court said yes. With all due respect to the Hon'ble Judge, it is non-sense, and that judgment cannot be enforced outside Delhi, on the basis of geographical jurisdiction of the Delhi High Court.

2. Yes. Removing masks for basic necessities is always permitted. The problem is that it is left to the judgment of the person imposing the fine. So it becomes a major grey area, and leads to major issues. Also, it need not be "legal" grounds. It should be logical grounds, and also subject to the "reasonable" judgment of the imposing authority.

3. Was the notice pre-signed, or was it drafted in front of you? Also, was a copy given to you, with original being kept for records? When you were remitting via net banking, was the account on the name of Government of Delhi or relevant department? Answers to these would assist in validation.

4. (a) Motor Vehicles Act permits only the authorized authorities to take action only for violation of the Motor Vehicles Act. Authorized authorities being Law & Order Police, RTO's, Traffic Police, and in certain specific cases, highway enforcement authorities. Outside these, no other authority can enforce Motor Vehicles Act against you.

(b) The rules governing wearing of masks are regulated by the Epidemics Act, read with Disaster Management Act. Under this, the relevant authorities can impose fines. Relevant authorities are decided by the local State Government(s). For example, in Telangana, only L&O police, Traffic Police and Municipality officers can impose fines for masks - this is determined via a valid Government Order issued. So if in Delhi, CVD is duly authorized via a GO to enforce the mask rule, then yes, you would be breaking the law if you refuse to hand over ID - which can be an additional penalty, or disobedience of an authorized officer - in some cases punishable by jail. We all know what happened to the couple from Delhi who picked a fight with the police (unsure if it was L&O or CVD) for wearing a mask. They are still trying to get out of the mess. So best handover your ID when asked - AFTER verifying the authenticity of the person stopping the vehicle.

(c) If you fail to stop if signalled by CVD, Point (b) applies provided they can identify you. In Telangana, the vehicle owner gets a challan if the pillion removes the mask... . The question that comes to my mind is how are they fining - I assume at traffic lights or via checkposts, otherwise paper based challans cannot be issued after collection of ID's.

However, the bigger problem is challenging the fine. Ideally, the SDM who has signed the Order is permitted to revoke the fine. However, as a lawyer, and keeping in mind the current situation, I would recommend not going for that option, as it involves going to the office which in itself currently is a major risk.

So, with all due respect, let's bear this for now.

Last edited by Eddy : 15th June 2021 at 21:52. Reason: spacing for better readability
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Old 15th June 2021, 18:29   #3
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Default re: Can I challenge a 'not wearing mask' fine?

As someone who has paid multiple bogus challans in the name of COVID masking, I'll just say that this has turned into a charade for generating revenue. Nobody is concerned with the logic or legality of anything. It is all about money. You are just stopped and asked to either pay up or threatened to otherwise argue your case in court. There is no point debating or arguing with these collection agents masquerading as policemen. The other day, the constable who had flagged me down duly played for me the whatsapp audio clip of upar se aai instruction (instructions from above). They are being asked to flag down as many cars as possible and meet their targets. Blatant extortion is happening in the name of COVID, for no sane person has the time to go to the courts over Rs.500 or 1000 or 2000.

Last edited by Shreyans_Jain : 15th June 2021 at 18:32.
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Old 15th June 2021, 21:24   #4
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Default re: Can I challenge a 'not wearing mask' fine?

Quote:
Originally Posted by iamitp View Post
I would like to underline that the objective of starting this thread is not to rant about the 'Mask fine' or report its imposition (same has been done on a different thread), but to rather crowdsource legal mechanisms and remedies for challenging the imposition of such challans in a reasonable manner when we feel it has been imposed under unreasonable circumstances.
Quote:
Originally Posted by LegalEagle View Post
However, as a lawyer, and keeping in mind the current situation, I would recommend not going for that option, as it involves going to the office which in itself currently is a major risk.
Barring legalities of the person giving the fine aside, the language of the notice is very very incorrect.

For eg - The notice states that a team is made ..... to check following violations at the Road, marriage function public gathering workplace shops., Restaurants, Bars and pubs etc.

- point 1 - shouldn't it be *on the Road*. But if its on the road, and you are inside the car, should they mention inside the car?

- point 2 - the lack of commas is driving me mad. What does *marriage function public gathering workplace shops* mean?

In the next line - Wearing of mask / cover by individual / employees customers /

- How is this a violation? A violation should be incorrect / non usage of masks / cover and so on.....

By same logic, they might fine you for Posters regarding Covid-19 related precautions / warnings as you don't have such posters pasted on your car.

But if you do, is it considered as an offence under the MV act?
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Old 16th June 2021, 00:05   #5
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Default re: Can I challenge a 'not wearing mask' fine?

We did have a detailed discussion earlier about (almost) getting fined for not wearing a mask (Almost got fined for not wearing a mask).
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Old 16th June 2021, 00:21   #6
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Default re: Can I challenge a 'not wearing mask' fine?

I think as LegalEagle mentioned, it’s best to let this go under the present circumstances. Trying to challenge this, which is a major grey area in your case, removing the mask to drink water, would be almost impossible to prove. If anything could have been done, it would have been there and then, with whatever means if you know what I mean.

Trying to take this or things like this any further would entail risking your health with high blood pressure and frustration at nothing happening.

Just forget about it and move on.

Cheers
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Old 16th June 2021, 01:28   #7
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Default re: Can I challenge a 'not wearing mask' fine?

"Just forget about it and move on."

THIS is the very reason why these crooks are successful in going about their business and making a quick buck. No one is bothered to challenge and fight with these people.
The most common premise is why bother to fight for 500/1000 bucks, just pay and be done with it. This is the worst attitude that we have developed. If we don't stand for our rights we shall always be trampled up on. Let's learn to get up and fight.

Please remember Covid isn't going to go away any time soon, lets not become so complacent that these people take advantage of that. We are a free county! Jai Hind.

Last edited by Maverick1977 : 16th June 2021 at 01:44. Reason: Removed my personal experience to make post shorter
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Old 16th June 2021, 07:39   #8
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Default re: Can I challenge a 'not wearing mask' fine?

Quote:
Originally Posted by iamitp View Post
Can I challenge a 'Mask fine'?
I think you are asking the wrong question.
The question you should really ask, is Should you challenge the fine?

Are you sure you want to plead your case before the Hon courts and get justice after ~30 years?
The same Hon courts who think sun films are a problem for national security?
The same Hon courts who think only Diwali crackers cause pollution, but same crackers on New Years Eve don't?
And most importantly, does it even make economic sense to spend much more than 2000 (and I am not even counting your time value) to recover 2000?

I wouldn't. I would put it down to "one of those things", say Satyameva Jayate, and move on.

Here is an example to help you arrive at a decision.
Case (over extra charges for parking slot in residential area) filed in 2008.
The gentleman got "justice" after 13 years in 2021.
All this over 37,000/- dispute.
And know the saddest part? The gentleman wasn't even alive to see it.
https://punemirror.indiatimes.com/pu...w/83500510.cms

Last edited by RedTerrano : 16th June 2021 at 07:47. Reason: Added news link.
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Old 16th June 2021, 10:32   #9
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Default Re: Can I challenge a 'not wearing mask' fine?

Quote:
Originally Posted by iamitp View Post
It instructed me to pay the fine in cash at the above office or via bank transfer and submit proof of receipt of the payment along with the copy of the notice to the above office within three days or face an FIR/charges under section 188 of IPC without further communication.
In Delhi, for IPC 188 the Magistrates either warn the offenders, or at the most impose a 200 Rupees fine. Unless they charge you with a non bailable offence, there is nothing to worry.

I would say, keep away if you can with Police and Courts in this country, the time, money and peace of mind you will lose to get any semblance of justice is just not worth it. As they say Justice delayed is Justice denied. Former CJI Ranjan Gogoi recently said "Who goes to the court? You go to the court and regret."

Quote:
- What is the correct method for verifying that the challan is being imposed by a legally empowered authority and not an imposter?
RTI

Quote:
Originally Posted by LegalEagle View Post

We all know what happened to the couple from Delhi who picked a fight with the police (unsure if it was L&O or CVD) for wearing a mask. They are still trying to get out of the mess.
IPC 188, 186, 353, 269, 34 and Sec 53B of DMA - this was well deserved, specially for the woman, the man became a scapegoat.

Spike
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Old 16th June 2021, 11:04   #10
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Default Re: Can I challenge a 'not wearing mask' fine?

This is pretty straightforward in Telangana. You have the state government's echallan site. You can go there, type your car details and see the challans pending against you. I am facing a similar problem. I was driving with my wife sitting next to me, they clicked a picture and a challan of 1000 is pending on my name. While I would definitely wear a mask when I am walking or shopping in a public space, I am not quite ready to pay this fine. It is not about money but wearing a mask in a car. I will speak to the police when I am stopped and find out the legal way to take care of it.
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Old 16th June 2021, 11:09   #11
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Default Re: Can I challenge a 'not wearing mask' fine?

Thanks a ton LegalEagle for taking the time out for examining the issue in detail. The legal perspective share by you will certainly help a lot of use get a better understanding of this issue.


Quote:
Originally Posted by LegalEagle View Post
As a lawyer, I would only be able to answer the relevant points -
3. Was the notice pre-signed, or was it drafted in front of you? Also, was a copy given to you, with original being kept for records? When you were remitting via net banking, was the account on the name of Government of Delhi or relevant department? Answers to these would assist in validation.
- The notice a photocopy of the attached form which was signed by the CDV in front of me.
- The original was given to me and a picture of the same was taken by CDV for records.
- Yes I remitted via NEFT. As my bank a/c is in ICICI, I am unable to look up the a/c no. mentioned. I believe it is only possible to do so through the netbanking facility of SBI. If any of you have an SBI a/c, could you please lookup this a/c no. - 39918240400

Quote:
Originally Posted by blackwasp View Post
Barring legalities of the person giving the fine aside, the language of the notice is very very incorrect.
Even the email id of SDM mentioned is wrong, which led me to suspect if this is a legit notice. However, no one replied to my query either over email or Twitter (sent to the official ids) when I sent across a copy of the challan for verification. Running out of the 'Pay fine in 3 days or FIR' threat, I paid up.


Quote:
Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
We did have a detailed discussion earlier about (almost) getting fined for not wearing a mask (Almost got fined for not wearing a mask).
I went through that thread in detail. The objective of starting a new thread was not to journal my experience or rant about it, but to seek information on how we (BHPians/Citizens) can challenge it when it has been imposed under dubious circumstances.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shreyans_Jain View Post
Blatant extortion is happening in the name of COVID, for no sane person has the time to go to the courts over Rs.500 or 1000 or 2000.
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedTerrano View Post
I think you are asking the wrong question.
The question you should really ask, is Should you challenge the fine
I see where you are coming from, given the current public sentiment, the general apathy towards middle class vehicle owners, complex and India's slow legal framework.

But, as
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maverick1977 View Post
Please remember Covid isn't going to go away any time soon, lets not become so complacent that these people take advantage of that. We are a free county! Jai Hind.
says Covid isn't going away. In fact, this will set a precedent for future pandemics and events.

Sooner than later, we will live in cities with barricades every 5 KM and 24x7 police checking even in times of peace. 'Sniper' CDVs peering into windows and windshield to catch the middle class drinking water, cleaning spectacles or just taking a breath and collect Rs. 2000. Despite Delhi's stringent single-driver mask fines, it still went through one of the worst 2nd wave episodes. Govt's will keep hounding the salaried class even as super-spreaders take place in rallies and events and even everyday markets.

If this has to stop, then we must fight back. I don't think you and I alone have the resolution or resources to win against this. However, the idea behind creating this thread on Team BHP was to rally our collective willpowers. Maybe together, bit by bit, we can contribute to a just and fair challenge of this legislation. Maybe we can reclaim peace on the roads that were built by our taxes.

However, if you think it's not worth the trouble, I can understand and empathise.

Last edited by Aditya : 17th June 2021 at 18:09. Reason: Quote fixed
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Old 17th June 2021, 09:30   #12
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Default Re: Can I challenge a 'not wearing mask' fine?

Quote:
Originally Posted by iamitp View Post
- I would like to ask Legal experts and professionals on this forum if there is a reasonable mechanism for a citizen to challenge such an issued challan?
- Would basic human need such as drinking water be considered legal valid grounds for removing mask?
- What is the correct method for verifying that the challan is being imposed by a legally empowered authority and not an imposter?
- What legal action am I liable for if I refuse to hand over my ID for generation of challan? Or refuse to stop when signalled by a CVD? Can I be prosecuted under Motor Vehicles Act based on my car's registration number?
As someone in civil services, I would answer your questions from the way I see it:

1) Legal grounds: Yes, I would say removing the mask to drink water that too in a vehicle is 100% a legitimate reason. There is generally a lot of grey area when it comes to legit reasons and depends on the person who you are dealing with.

2) Checking the legitimacy of the challan: You need to get in contact with the authority who has issued the challan e.g. Delhi Municipal Corporation. As a citizen is it 100% your civil right to be able to question and raise concerns post-event. Currently, you have played it by the book by paying the fine and have the upper hand in this case. Try to call or email them regarding your concerns and they will get back to you. That becomes your first mechanism to voice your concerns.

3) Legal action: Not sure about how it works in Delhi but generally, in Mumbai, there are uniformed police alongside volunteers. If this is the case in Delhi too, you always I imagine you have the right to refuse to give the volunteer the ID card directly and wait until a senior or uniformed officer arrives. Never stopping is NOT an option.

The problem is that the public sometimes may not be well-versed with the rules (definitely not the fault of the public) and due to this, the aforementioned 'grey areas' are developed. It is useful to read the circulars/policies that are released on public domains by authorities to have an understanding of what is right/wrong and that would subsequently give you the knowledge to raise your concerns over the wrongdoings of volunteers, traffic cops etc.

Last edited by AKSarkar1 : 17th June 2021 at 09:32.
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Old 17th June 2021, 14:09   #13
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Default Re: Can I challenge a 'not wearing mask' fine?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AKSarkar1 View Post
As someone in civil services, I would answer your questions from the way I see it
Thanks for sharing your perspective. The issue with challenging the challan has been non-responsiveness of the Sub-divisional Magistrate's office and Delhi Police. I had emailed them as well as Tweeted out to the official handles, but have not received any response. Given the pandemic, I did not want to venture to the SDM Office physically for pleading my case.

Given the 3 day notice for paying the fine or risking an FIR, it is challenging for common citizens to contact the concerned authorities without some 'connections'.

Additionally, no situational provisions or mechanism for contesting these challans is mentioned anywhere on the challan, which leaves citizens at the mercy of an unresponsive 'system'.

In Delhi, the CDV are not accompanies by Delhi Police and seem operate independently. It becomes really difficult to establish their veracity given the increasing cases of scams being perpetrated by CDVs. How are they recruited or what background checks are done before is still unknown? Most of them appear to be unemployed youths who are supporters and workers of the ruling party.

I am hopeful that I eventually get a response over email or Twitter from the concerned District Authorities so that I can at-least plead my case.

You are correct about being aware of the official guidelines/circulars. Most of them are available on the respective Health/Disaster Management Department. However, in Delhi's case, I cannot seem to locate the specific circular mentioned on Delhi's e-Gazette or DDMA order repository. Coupled with the obvious spelling mistakes on the order and unresponsiveness of the authorities in establishing its veracity, what measures can a common citizen take?

Are there any practical solutions that common citizens can undertake without unreasonable risk or hardship?
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Old 17th June 2021, 15:56   #14
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Default Re: Can I challenge a 'not wearing mask' fine?

Interesting discussion. I've never been fined, however the penalty in Karnataka is INR 250; surprised to 10x figures in other states. Pardon me for these many Q's. Just eager to know my rights.

1. Do any of you have the ORIGINAL challan ? Please share
2. Who is empowered to challan - Rank, dept etc ?
3. Do we HAVE to pay on the spot ?
4. Is the penalty amount defined in our laws ? If no, who decides - state or center ?
5. Can a maskless individual be arrested ? Is it a bailable offence ?
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Old 17th June 2021, 15:58   #15
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Default Re: Can I challenge a 'not wearing mask' fine?

My perspective of thought:

Why do authorities fine for not abiding corona norms? it can be for driving out when it is restriction, or for not wearing mask, or for not maintaining social distances, etc.,

The first thing that strikes me is, did the authorities issue challans to the people who brought the virus into our country?

What action was taken or done for bringing the corona virus in first place? Why is no one talking on that?

I have nothing against those poor souls, but ignoring the fact whether it was done intentionally or unintentionally needs to be found out.

Issuing challans cannot be stopped as long as we don't have a consumer centric law. Here law is based on the type of person it is to be applied, dynamic and volatile. Hence we cannot stop or change the way it is.
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