The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Friday took suo-motu notice of the fact that most companies manufacturing and selling hand sanitizers, even after March 21, are showing the maximum retail price of such products to be far above Rs.250/- for 500 mls.
The Central Government, vide notification dated March 21, 2020, stipulated that all hand sanitizers shall not be priced at more than Rs.100/- per 200 mls.
"Would that also amount to cheating the public and therefore, would an offence punishable under the relevant provisions of the IPC consequently be made out, or not?", questioned the Court. "Prima facie at least, in my opinion, it would', observed the Single Judge.
Consequently, the Additional Chief Secretaries/ Principal Secretaries/Secretaries in the Departments of Health, and Food and Supplies, of the States of Haryana, Punjab and U.T. Chandigarh, are directed to have 'raids' conducted at chemist shops and manufacturing units, to obtain samples of hand sanitizers/hand disinfectants; and wherever those are manufactured after March 2020, showing a maximum retail price above Rs.250/- for 500 mls./more than Rs.100/- for 200 mls., proceedings as per law shall be initiated against all such manufacturers.
"If the shops selling the products also are selling at prices above what is stipulated in the notification of March 21, 2020, then action would be taken against them too, as per law", ordered the Single Bench.
The Court also noted that a large number of brands of facial masks as have been purchased, are of highly sub-standard quality, where even while tying the masks, the strings attached break off immediately, thereby making the masks unusable.
Consequently, it directed that in the 'raids' to be conducted, boxes of masks/individual masks shall also be collected by those of the 'raiding party', with the masks to be tested as regards this basic issue of breaking of strings, and if such breaking is found, or the masks are otherwise found to be of sub-standard quality, proceedings as per law shall be taken against all concerned.
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