Observing that "the Central and State Government are not helpless when it comes to regulating the price of N-95 masks and availability thereof," the Karnataka High Court on Friday, directed both governments to respond on the question of introducing regulatory measures as regards price of N95 masks.
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay OKa and Justice Aravind Kumar said "Prima facie we are of the view that in the present situation it will be the responsibility of both the governments to ensure that N95 masks are easily available to members of the public at a reasonable rate."
The bench on going through the affidavits filed by the state government noticed that N95 masks were available in the market between the price range of Rs 60 to Rs 300. The bench said "N95 masks are said to be the best weapon to deal with Covid-19. Earlier orders record the stand taken by the Central government. N95 masks were put in the list of essential commodities and later on they were withdrawn. Central government has stated in its response that rates of N95 masks should be left to market dynamics. Judicial notice will have to be taken of the fact that across the country and especially in Karnataka the figures of persons who are tested positive for Covid-19 are multiplying everyday. Therefore the stand taken by Union of India that the price of N95 masks will be decided by market dynamics, the victim will be citizens at large."
The bench added "Even as regards hand sanitisers there is a lot of price variation. The Government of India will have to review the said aspect as well. On both the aspects both the governments will have to make their stand clear by filing affidavit by September 23."
The directions were given while hearing a bunch of petitions in regards to availability of medical facilities to Covid-19 patients.