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[COVID 19] Kerala HC Directs Govt. To Take Measures To Control Price Rise Of Face Masks & Hand Sanitizers [Read Judgment]

19 March 2020 3:52 PM GMT
[COVID 19] Kerala HC Directs Govt. To Take Measures To Control Price Rise Of Face Masks & Hand Sanitizers [Read Judgment]
"Sale of the abovesaid commodities at higher rates, shall be viewed seriously, and prompt action shall be taken in accordance with law."
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The Kerala High Court has directed the Government to take measures to control the price rise of the essential commodities, viz., face masks and hand sanitizers, and ensure adequate supply of the said commodities in the State of Kerala, subject to the manufacturing capacity.

These orders were passed on Wednesday while partly allowing a Public Interest Litigation filed by Justice Brigade. The bench of the Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P. Chaly, however, refused to direct the Government to take immediate action to close down all the places where public gather, including shopping malls, schools, theaters, universities and tourist places in the State.

The bench also directed the Government to keep vigil over the issue, monitor on a day-to-day basis, the number of cases reported for screening, number of persons quarantined, likelihood of spread of an epidemic situation and such other factors.

Though it declined the prayer to direct the Government to close down places where public gathers, it observed:

We are of the view that social gatherings are now stated to be one of the reasons for the community spread disease and that social distancing is the advisory of both, the Central and State Government. It is for the Government of Kerala to closely monitor the educational institutions, universities, shopping malls, theaters and tourist places in the State and such other places, where there is possibility of large gatherings.

Regarding the issue of face masks and sanitizers, the bench directed the Government:

To issue orders directing precautionary measures to the prevent wide spread of community disease, take stringent action against those, who take advantage of the situation and create an artificial scarcity of sanitizers and masks, and exercise the power under the Essential Commodities Act and the rules made therein forthwith, to regulate possession, sale and the price of essential commodities viz., masks and sanitizers and such other products, required for prevention and control of the spreading of the virus.

To take steps to keep constant vigil on all those, who are likely to sell/market sanitizers/masks, as the case may be, on higher rates.

To make known the advisories issued by the Government of India/Government of Kerala to the general public, by issuing paper publications. Government of Kerala is also directed to explore the possibilities of getting the assistance of voluntary organizations/institutions, who come forwarded to create awareness among the public.

To explore the possibilities of inviting Non-Governmental Organizations or any other institutions for manufacturing masks/sanitizers, as per the guidelines issued by the World Health Organizations.

To explore the possibilities of directing the Health Department of Kerala or any other institutions, like KMSCL, for manufacturing masks/sanitizers, as the case may be.

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