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Karnataka HC asks Centre, State Governments to introduce regulatory measures to control price of N-95 masks, hand sanitizers

"Prima facie, we are of the view that, in the present situation, it will be the responsibility of both governments to ensure that N-95 masks are easily available to the public at reasonable rates", the Court said.

Rintu Mariam Biju

The Karnataka High Court today directed both the Centre and the State Government to introduce certain regulatory measures to control the prices of N-95 masks and hand sanitizers amid the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases.

In this regard, the order passed by Division bench consisting of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Aravind Kumar reads,

"Prima facie, we are of the view that, in the present situation, it will be the responsibility of both governments to ensure that N-95 masks are easily available to the public at reasonable rates."

Karnataka High Court

During the hearing today, the Bench was informed that price of N-95 masks ranged from Rs 60 to Rs 300. Even for hand sanitizers, there is a similar variation in prices, the Bench observed.

The Central Government had earlier informed the Court that the rates of N-95 masks should be decided by "market dynamics". However, taking note of the rising number of COVID-19 cases, the Court remarked that the citizens at large would be the victim if the Centre continues with this stance.

"Both the Central Government and State Governments are not at all helpless when it comes to regulating the price of N-95 masks and their availability thereof", Bench said.

This apart, the Bench has made the following observations and directions:

  • The decision of State Government that enhancement of insurance amount from Rs 30 lakhs to Rs.50 lakhs is not possible has been recorded. The Court does not want go into merits of the case but leaves it to the appropriate party to challenge it if deemed fit.

  • The State is to place on record the amounts paid under the insurance scheme to pourakarmikas till date.

  • On the point of PPE kit allowance of Rs.10,000 for Pourakarmikas, the decision of the State government has to be expedited. Two weeks time granted to State to take a decision.

  • The State is to ensure that all Pourakarmikas in all districts are paid in full, including to those persons to whom salaries have admittedly not been paid. The State directed to collect data of all salaries paid to the sanitisation workers up to August 31.

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