The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the Gujarat High Court order that made it mandatory for those who do not wear masks to do community service at coronavirus centres, PTI reported. The court directed the state government to ensure “vigorous adherence” of the Centre’s coronavirus guidelines on masks and physical distancing.

A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah heard a plea by the Gujarat government, challenging the High Court’s Wednesday order. The state government said the directive was harsh, and could have “serious repercussions” for those not following the guidelines.

The judges agreed that the order may lead to health problems and called it “disproportionate”, according to Live Law.

During the hearing, the Supreme Court also expressed its displeasure over the fact that the Covid-19 guidelines are not being followed scrupulously in the state. The bench directed Gujarat additional chief secretary (home), and the police to ensure that all the guidelines are diligently followed.

A High Court Bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice JB Pardiwala on Wednesday had said that a person will have to do community service for four to six hours a day for a period ranging from five to 15 days, if they are found without masks. The court said that the tasks assigned to a person should be of a “non-medical” nature. “The duty can include activities such as cleaning, housekeeping, help in cooking and serving food, preparation of record, data feeding, etc,” the court said

Gujarat is one of India’s worst coronavirus-affected states. It has registered more than 2 lakh cases and 4,004 deaths so far. Amid a surge in cases last month, Gujarat had to reimpose night curfew in Ahmedabad. Similar curbs were also enforced in in Rajkot, Surat and Vadodara.

India’s coronavirus cases rose by 35,551 on Thursday morning, making it the 26th straight day when daily infections stayed below the 50,000 mark. The country now has total 95,34,964 cases, while as many as 89,73,373 people have recovered. The toll rose by 526 to 1,38,648.

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