In a bid to curb the transmission of Novel COVID-19, the Central government on Friday declared masks and hand sanitizers to be "essential commodities" until June 30, 2020.
They have been put under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, to enable the Central government and the State government (by delegation) to regulate the production, quality and distribution of masks (2 ply and 3 ply surgical masks, N95 masks) and sanitizers.
The move will also enhance the availability of masks and sanitizers in the market at a reasonable price and will help to crackdown black marketers, who have been charging exorbitantly for the same.
A notification in that behalf was issued by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution on Friday, March 13.
The Central government is empowered under Section 2A of the Essential Commodities Act to declare a commodity as an "essential commodity", to ensure its equitable distribution and availability at fair prices. It has the power to regulate the production, supply, distribution, etc., of essential commodities under Section 3 of the Act, or to delegate such powers to the State government under Section 5.
Violation of any direction made under Section 3 is a cognizable offence which may attract a penalty of imprisonment up to 7 years. (See Section 7)