The Delhi High Court has asked the Delhi Government to seriously examine the proposal of imposition of fines for those found guilty of mosquito breeding, observing that the quantum of fine should not be limited to Rs. 5,000 but should be fixed at Rs. 50,000.
The Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Jasmeet Singh was of the view that the imposition of fines should be examined if a deterrence has to be created in the minds of the people to not allow mosquito breeding in their premises.
"We are also of the view that where institutions are found guilty of such conduct, the quantum of fine should not be limited to merely Rs.5,000/-, and should be fixed at Rs. 50,000/-. The GNCTD shall examine these aspects at the highest level and respond on the next date," the Bench added.
The bench had taken suo moto cognizance of the issue of large scale mosquito breeding in the city, resulting in vector borne diseases such as Malaria, Chikungunya and Dengue every year.
During the course of hearing, the Bench noted that the number of dengue cases in the city increase every year. In the year 2018, the city reported 91 cases. In 2019, the number increased to 313. In 2020, Delhi reported 341 dengue cases and in the year 2021, the number escalated to 2,663.
Expressing displeasure at such a situation, Justice Singh orally remarked,
"We can't encourage lethargy. Look at these figures, it's shocking. It shouldn't come to this. It is not something which can't be visualized, its happening year after year. It's not like Covid which was unforeseen. You know the pattern, the hotspots, when it happens, etc. How difficult can it be?"
Vide order dated march 25, the Court had directed the Municipal Corporations in city to incorporate a 'common protocol' to be followed by all the local authorities for dealing with the menace of mosquito infestation and spreading of vector borne diseases.
Accordingly, a common protocol was placed on record by all the 3 Corporations— NDMC, SDMC and EDMC, on May 20.
On a perusal of the same, the Court noted the stand of the NDMC is that they are mooting a proposal for raising the fine from Rs.500/- to Rs.50,000/-, and also imposition of on the spot fines.
However, the Delhi government submitted that it proposes to increase the fine to Rs. 5,000/- and the same is under process and on the spot fines is not proposed at all.
Taking exception to this, the Bench observed,
"The efficacy of the system of imposition of fines as a deterrent would be completely lost, if fines are not imposed on the spot. We may also notice that mere challaning the violators and those found guilty of allowing mosquito breeding in their premises, would only lead to explosion of such cases in the Courts, and adding to the already existing heavy burdens that the subordinate Courts have to deal with."
Furthermore, the Court was of the view that the overall responsibility to supervise implementation of the common protocol to be followed by all the local authorities for dealing with the menace of mosquito infestation and spreading of vector borne diseases, should rest with the Municipal Commissioner who shall, in co-ordination with the Deputy Health Officers ensure that the protocol evolved is strictly implemented.
The Court thus directed the DHOs in the Municipal Corporations; the Chief Medical Officer in NDMC, and Assistant Health Officer (AHO) in Delhi Cantonment Board to be personally responsible to implement the common protocol.
"The Commissioner of the MCD and the Chief Executive Officer of the NDMC and DCB shall be personally responsible to supervise the working of the DHOs, CMO and AHO respectively. Failure to perform their duties by the aforesaid officers shall invite departmental action, as well as for Contempt of Court both individually and jointly," the Court said.
The Bench also directed the local bodies/ authorities/ departments to strictly comply with and fulfil their respective obligations as enlisted in the common protocol.
"They shall all remain bound by the said common protocol. Failure to comply with the same, and lapses in implementation of the common protocol shall be viewed seriously, and the Chief Executive Officers of the other local bodies/ authorities shall be personally held liable for the same," the Court said.
The matter will now be heard on July 15.
Earlier, the Court had appointed Advocate Rajat Aneja as amicus curiae for assisting it in the matter.
It had also expressed displeasure on the failure of municipal corporations to control the surge of vector borne diseases like Dengue, malaria and Chikungunya in the national capital, observing that it's earlier directions to control the same had fallen on deaf ears.
Case Title: Court in its own motion v. State