The Bombay High Court has asked Maharashtra’s municipal corporations and local bodies to manufacture and distribute special masks for people with hearing disability.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G.S. Kulkarni was hearing a PIL filed by Lokshahiwadi Balasaheb Sarode Smriti Prabodhan Upakram, through Advocates Ajinkya Udane and Asim Sarode, suggesting that masks worn by specially abled persons should have some sort of identification mark in the form of a sticker to enable easy identification.
Suryavanshi, the advocate for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, placed before the court a sample mask which, according to him, has been designed and manufactured keeping in mind the needs of the people who are short of hearing or have hearing disabilities.
Suryavanshi as well as Samant, the learned AGP appearing for the state, informed the court that the design and manufacture of the sample mask has been approved by Ali Yavar Jung National Institute of Speech and Hearing Disabilities (Divyangjan).
The court said; “Having heard learned counsel for the parties and upon looking at the sample mask, we are of the view that the sign which is printed on one side of the mask to cover the face should also be printed on the other side, so as to make it clearly visible to the persons facing the person who is wearing the mask or else the purpose of such special mask could be defeated.”
It further held; “We encourage the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai as well as all other Municipal Corporations and local bodies to have such masks manufactured and distributed among the people suffering from hearing disability.”
On May 4, the court had enquired if the State could make a mask distribution drive for the poor and homeless.
The second concern of the petitioner is to penalize people who do not wear masks. On this, the court held; “At this stage no direction is necessary, for, we are confident that people in their best interests would wear masks and those who do not shall be dealt with by the authorities appropriately.”
The matter is listed for further hearing on June 22, wherein the court will hear the parties on the issue regarding improper management and disposal of used masks and Personal Protective Equipment Kits.
While concluding the order, the court held; “In the meantime, steps shall be taken in accordance with the guidelines that have been issued by the Central Pollution Control Board for “Handling biomedical waste generated during the treatment of Covid-19” and the offenders thereof shall be dealt with in accordance with law.”