The Bombay High Court on Tuesday directed the State government to ensure that all seized PPE kits, masks, gloves and sanitizers seized by the police reach the frontline workers engaged in combating Covid-19.
Division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice SS Shinde were hearing a PIL filed by an ex-MLC Mohan Joshi wherein he sought distribution of all sanitizers, face masks and PPE kits that were meant for the black market but were seized by the police, amongst doctors, medical staff, police officials and other 'Corona Warriors' like sweepers, cleaners etc.
As reported earlier, on May 4, the High Court had asked the State to file an affidavit in reply to the issues raised in the PIL and indicate the quantum of stockpile that has been seized.
Advocate Vishal Kanade instructed by Advocate Harsh Parte appeared for the petitioner and Government Pleader Poornima Kantharia for the State and ASG Anil Singh for the Union of India.
On Tuesday, the State filed an affidavit. After perusal of the said affidavit, Court noted that interim orders have been passed by the Competent Authority under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 detailing the procedure for disposal of such seized properties but making it clear that such arrangement would be subject to the orders of the criminal court.
Kanade submitted that such interim orders are under challenge in judicial proceedings, but have not been stayed; and, till such time the orders of the Competent Authority are in force, the Government may be directed to implement the interim orders of the Competent Authority.
GP Kantharia submitted that action is being taken in terms of the orders of the Competent Authority. The bench observed that from the documents annexed to the affidavit, it would be clear that a part of the seized properties have been handed over to the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai maintaining formalities.
Thus, finally the Court observed -
"In view of the stand taken by the State in its affidavit, we do not wish to keep this petition pending. The same stands disposed of with the observation that so long the orders of the Competent Authority are not disturbed in judicial proceedings, the State shall make all possible endeavour to implement such orders and ensure that in these trying times the seized properties do reach the end-users for combating COVID-19."
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