NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has capped the maximum price of each rapid test kit imported by Matrix Labs at Rs 400, including GST.
"For the people to be assured that the pandemic is under control and for the governments to ensure, and for agencies engaged in the frontline battle to safeguard people's health, more kits/tests should be made available urgently at the lowest cost throughout the country," said Justice Najmi Waziri while capping the price of the medical kits.
The court was hearing a plea by Rare Metabolics Life Sciences to seek release of 7.24 lakh COVID-19 rapid test kits and other COVID-19 related material being imported by the respondent from China.
The Indian Council of Medical Research had placed an order with Rare Metabolics for 500,000 test kits at Rs 600 each on March 27 and 28 for a total of Rs 30 crore.
FOLLOW COVID-19 LIVE UPDATES HERE
Rare Metabolics routed the order through Matrix, which is licensed to import medical material. Matrix imported the kits at Rs 245 each, or a total of Rs 12.25 crore, the court said.
It supplied the kits to Rare Metabolics for Rs 21 crore.
The court observed that Rare Metabolics in turn made a profit of Rs 9 crore "despite no value addition to the imported medical material."
Of the Rs 30 crore, which is to be paid by ICMR, Rs 18.7 crore constituted the intermediaries' margin, the court said.
"The country is going through an unprecedented medical crisis affecting public order. People have been cloistered in their homes or constrained to stay wherever they were on March 24, 2020. The economy is virtually at a standstill for the last one month. There is an element of disquiet apropos one's safety. Public interest must outweigh private gain. The lis between the parties should give way to the larger public good," the court observed.
While the firms have delivered 276,000 kits to the ICMR, the court has instructed that the remaining 224,000 kits be delivered when the consignment lands in India.