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IS SPITTING IN PUBLIC PLACES AN OFFENCE?









Published by: HARDIK VERMA


Introduction

Spitting is the demonstration of persuasively catapulting salivation or different substances from the mouth. The demonstration is frequently never really freed of undesirable or foul-tasting substances in the mouth or to dispose of an enormous develop of spit. It is at present considered inconsiderate and a socially unacceptable in numerous pieces of the world including the West, while in some other sections of the world, including India itself, it is viewed as more socially adequate. Spitting upon someone else, particularly onto the face, is a worldwide indication of outrage, scorn, lack of respect or hatred. It can speak to a "symbolical spewing forth" or a demonstration of purposeful tainting.


Unfortunately, a nation like India, which is developing every day, loses confidence attempting to prevent its kin from spitting. Spitting culture is surely a humiliating situation in our nation. In spite of the fact that the legislature is waking up from its slumber with respect to cleanliness and sanitation, with its Clean India exertion – a strategic centred to battle open toilets and keeping public spots cleaner, there has been no adjustment in the quantity of individuals who spit in public spaces, in broad daylight. India is additionally taking off in its travel industry sector with its various topographical territories. Yet, shockingly, individuals from outside don't need their travel industry income squandered upon such locale spit scenes.

Spitting in Indian Culture

There is a common culture of spitting that prevails in India. It is not just the people who chew ‘paan’ or ‘guthka’ that can be blame upon the spitting culture of India. It has deep roots in the history of our society. The Indian obsession of spitting can be seen in various forms in our social cultures and even in our day to day conversations. It is a common act of mothers and grandmothers gently spitting or faking it on their children to keep them protected from the so-called ‘buri nazar’ or ‘evil eye’. Hindi, which is the dominant language of Northern India, is filled with metaphors about spitting. ‘Thoo-thoo karna’ (i.e. to get ashamed), ‘thook kar chaatna’ (i.e. to eat one’s own words) etc. are popular idioms used during conversations. Therefore, spitting is not a taboo in our culture. Despite this, some value of disgust is indeed associated with it.

Laws in Place

Spitting is indeed prohibited in India and several laws can be found in our country, which prohibit spitting in public places by charging a fine upon its violation. If we start looking at the various laws it is a non-exhaustive list.

Section 20 of the Factories Act, 1948, for instance, talks about setting up of proper spittoons in various places in the factory, how they should be kept in a proper, hygienic condition and how spitting anywhere except in the spittoons is not permitted[1] and may subject to fine as well.[2]


Further, if we look at Indian Railways (Penalties for Activities Affecting Cleanliness at Railway Premises) Rules, 2012 the Rule 3(b) read with Rule 4 of the Act discusses the prohibition of activities affecting cleanliness and hygiene in the railway premises. Under the above rule, clause(b) specifically states that, “No Person shall cook, bathe, spit, urinate, defecate , feed animals or birds, repair or wash vehicles , washing utensils or clothes or any other objects or keep any type of storage in any railway premises except in such facilities or conveniences specifically provided for any of these purposes”. Further, Rule 4 is the penal provision for violation of the above stated Rule, wherein the Fine may amount to Rs. 500/-.

At the State level, every state in its Municipal Acts, has similar provisions against the menace of spitting in public. Similar anti-spitting provisions are also seen in Police Acts of various States. In fact, a few States also have specific Acts prohibiting/ penalising spitting in public. Some of them being:

· Arunachal Pradesh Prevention of Defacement of Property Act, 1997- (Section 3)

  • Bombay Police Act, 1951- (Sections 115, 116 r/w Section 117)

  • Delhi Police Act, 1978- (Sections 95, 96 r/w Section 97)

  • Goa Prohibition of Smoking and Spitting Act, 1997- (Sections 5, 6, 10 r/w Section 2(i) r/w Sections 11(a), 12, 13)

  • Haryana Municipal Act, 1973- (Section 159)

  • Kerala Police Act, 2011- (Section 120-E)

  • Madras Public Health Act, 1939

  • Nagaland Municipal Act, 2001- (Section 441 r/w Sections 471, 472)

Problems in Implementation

The main hurdle faced in implementation of these anti-spitting laws is the mentality of the people. The people who have the duty to enforce laws do not take it seriously and let people loose by taking petty fines, without formally reporting the matter. While the people, who break the laws by spitting in public places, are either ignorant or not socially conscious enough and continue breaking the law without the fear of serious consequences. If only the laws, being as strict in their verbatim, were implemented in the same spirit and people would actually face the legal consequences upon its violation by spitting in public places, the country would be in a far better position than it is right now.


Thus, the main and most significant hurdle that exists in implementation of the anti-spitting laws is its proper and efficient enforceability and until and unless the same is done, people will continue violating these laws.


Spitting in Times of Coronavirus

Spitting in public is an offence under municipal laws in various cities, but it is rarely taken seriously by the people. As per the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in the wake of the extension of lockdown, spitting has been made punishable with a fine under Section 51 (b) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005. The directives shall be implemented by District Magistrates through fine and penal action in accordance with the Disaster Management Act, 2005. Refusal to comply with the Government Orders under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 may result in imprisonment up to one year or a fine, or both.


Keeping in mind the increasing number of COVID-19 cases, the Centre has time and again issued letters and notifications to States to ban the sale and use of tobacco and smokeless tobacco products as these practices lead to spitting in public places and the spread of diseases including COVID-19.


Currently, the authorities are strict due to the pandemic and the possible spread of the virus due to spitting in public. But observing history, once the scare blows over, everything might return to their normal level of leniency and the authorities go easy on those spitting in public places. The State has to consider enforcing this law strictly and in a more permanent manner. Today, the reason is an attempt to restrict the spread of COVID-19, but once this situation resolves, the ban on these products will serve as a medium to keep the society clean and more hygienic, and keep the public safe from so many other diseases that are brought about by smoking, spitting and other similar activities.

Conclusion

The Ministry of Health and State Health Departments should promote quitting tobacco maximally through electronic and social media to take advantage of this situation during which tobacco users are away from their usual triggers to use tobacco, such as shops, socialising, stress, etc. and while being at home, majority have the moral support needed to quit. Controlling this habit of smoking and using tobacco and gutka like substances, the need to spit publically will be reduced amongst the public.


Indians need to break away from their habit of spitting anywhere and everywhere. And right now, it is the best time to do so. If they stop now, they would do a great service to the nation, the environment and the society they live in. People are finally concerned about this hazardous culture of spitting in public places and if accompanied by effective mass social awareness and proper implementation of laws by the authorities, we can surely put an end to this culture together.

Footnotes:

[1]Section 2(3) of the Factories Act,1948- No person shall spit within the premises of a factory except in the spittoons provided for the purpose and a notice containing this provision and the penalty for its violation shall be prominently displayed at suitable places in the premises. [2] Section 2(4) of the Factories Act, 1948- Whoever spits in contravention of sub-section (3) shall be punishable with fine not exceeding five rupees.

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