Supreme Court to hear plea seeking directions to Centre to act against black marketing of masks, hand sanitisers during COVID-19 lockdown

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Updated: April 1, 2020 10:23:31 AM

The high demand of masks and sanitisers following the coronavirus outbreak has resulted in back marketing and hoarding. There have been many instances in the recent past when authorities have seized huge cache of masks and sanitizers in different cities.

The petition in Supreme Court against black marketing of masks and hand sanitizers has been filed by NGO Justice for Rights Foundation.

The Supreme Court will today hear a PIL filed against black marketing of face masks and sanitisers in the country amid a sweeping 21-day lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus cases. The petition has been filed by NGO Justice for Rights Foundation. A Supreme Court bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and Abdul Nazeer will take up the matter at 2 PM.

Petitioners Satyam Singh Rajput (advocate and founder of Justice for Rights Foundation), advocate Amit Sharma and Prateek Sharma, a law student, have sought the top court’s intervention to ensure that masks and sanitisers are sold on controlled price. It has also urged the court to pass a direction to the government to distribute free masks and essential commodities among the needy people.

Besides, the NGO has sought action against hoarding and back marketing of masks and sanitisers. It said the Centre should be directed to discharge its duty by ensuring fair and equitable distribution of surgical/N95 masks among the public.

“That in light of this unregulated and headless space, it has become open to these chemist and individuals to carry out trade in masks, hand sanitizers and liquid soap to the detriment of the society and thereby have further endangered the citizens of the country,” the petition reads.

The NGO has also sought a direction to set up a special task force to effectively implement the notification of the Department of Consumer Affairs issued last month.

The March 21 notification issued by the Department of Consumer Affairs had fixed the prices of the masks and sanitisers. It had said two masks should be available for Rs 8 and three for Rs 10. Besides, a 200 ml bottle of hand sanitiser cannot be sold more than Rs 100.

However, the petitioner said, chemists and other medical professionals are flouting the government’s notification.

The high demand of masks and sanitisers following the coronavirus outbreak has resulted in back marketing and hoarding. There have been many instances in the recent past when authorities have seized huge cache of masks and sanitizers in different cities.

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