The Karnataka High Court on Thursday asked the state government if it had levied fines on Member of Parliament (MP) Tejasvi Surya and other political leaders for not wearing masks during political rallies. Chief Justice Abhay Sreenivas Oka and Justice Vishwajith Shetty asked the state government about the signal it would send to elected representatives who flouted safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, Bar and Bench reported.
The governmentâ€™s counsel submitted a report by a police officer, which said that Tejasvi Surya had not broken the physical distancing norms laid down in view of the pandemic. The Bench replied with questions about photographs showing Tejasvi Surya without a mask. The judges were hearing a petition filed by advocate Ramesh Puthige raising allegations that the directives for COVID-19 management laid down by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) were not followed or implemented in Karnataka.
The petitioner had earlier argued that celebrities in Karnataka were not pulled up for flouting distancing norms and not wearing masks. He pointed out that ordinary citizens were being fined for infractions. He also said that Tejasvi Surya was seen flouting rules at a rally held on September 30 to welcome him from the airport to the party office, Live Law reported. Tejasvi Surya's office was contacted for a comment. They are yet to respond. He is currently campaigning for the BJP in Bihar.
A month ago, Karnataka reduced fines for not wearing masks from Rs 1,000 to Rs 250 in urban areas and from Rs 500 to Rs 100 in rural areas.
It is not just Tejasvi Surya. Several other politicians cutting across party lines have been found guilty of not wearing masks and failing to follow distancing rules since the lockdown began in March this year. This includes Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) President DK Shivakumar and former Karnataka Health Minister B Sriramulu, when he held his office as the state health minister.