11 May 2021 12:56 PM GMT
The Telangana High Court on Tuesday asked the State Government to explain as to why the provisions of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 and/ or the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 are not being invoked for regulating prices of life saving drugs essential for treatment of Covid-19. A Division Bench comprising of Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy has ordered...
The Telangana High Court on Tuesday asked the State Government to explain as to why the provisions of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 and/ or the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 are not being invoked for regulating prices of life saving drugs essential for treatment of Covid-19.
A Division Bench comprising of Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy has ordered the State Government to submit by the next date the manner in which it proposes to fix the maximum retail prices for Covid related treatment administered by the Government as well as private hospitals.
It has also sought capping of Covid-testing prices, and other essentials like medicines, PPE kits, etc.
"Why are you not invoking Essential Commodities Act to regulate prices of these resources? Nobody has such deep pockets to pay the prevailing unreasonable prices," observed CJ Kohli at the outset.
However, the Bench declined a suggestion to pass deterrent orders against private hospitals that indulge in profiteering activities.
"This is not the time to take action against Hospitals. Their services are required. We can only ask the State to regulate their charges," Justice Reddy said.
In its previous order also, the Court had asked the State to fix a particular rate for medicines, Oxygen supply and other such essential like CT scan and blood testing that are required for Covid-19.
The Secretary, Health and Family Welfare was directed to lay down guidelines regarding the maximum amount that can be charged uniformly by private hospitals for such critical facilities.
During the hearing, the Advocate General informed the Bench that the State has decided to impose a lockdown for ten days starting tomorrow, until 6 am of 21st May, 2021. It submitted that no relaxations will be given during this period except for four hours, i.e., from 6 am to 10 am for the public to obtain essentials.
It was also stated that procedure is being evolved for issuing of emergency passes and ensuring that members of public who are due for securing second dose of Covid vaccine are able to access hospitals for the same.
Taking note of this, the Bench expressed its dissatisfaction for not providing sufficient notice to the public to make requisite arrangements in advance.
"Any state gives time to its residents to prepare for a lockdown. But this state has given a kneejerk reaction and decided today to impose a 10 days long lockdown from tomorrow. How much time will this give to the people to put their houses in order. People will only get 6 hours and will be forced to swarm out in panic," Justice Kohli observed orally especially with regard to daily wagers and migrants.
The Bench directed the Police authorities to ensure that Covid-appropriate norms are followed at all times and directed that Eid celebrations during relaxed hours on 14th, that shall intervene the Lockdown period, shall be videographed at all prominent places and will be placed on record on the next date.
The State Government informed the Bench that despite the directions issued by the Court to the Centre for ensuring that full quota of allocated Oxygen reaches the State, the deficiency was not made good.
"We want zero deficit on the next date of hearing," the CJ said while directing Union of India to file an affidavit by the next date, explaining how the deficit in allocated supply of Oxygen has been made good.
Further, keeping in mind the fact that third wave of Covid-19 is also being forecast, both State and Centre have been directed to file an affidavit explaining the manner in which they propose to implement Supreme Court's order dated April 30 in its suo moto case, for ensuring augmentation of supply of medical Oxygen to the States.
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