BENGALURU: The Central government must file an affidavit explaining why it excluded N-95 masks and sanitiser from the list of essential commodities, thereby allowing prices to be controlled by market dynamics, the Karnataka High Court said on Thursday.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Aravind Kumar said that a competent officer of the Central government must file the affidavit with regard to the exclusion of N-95 masks and sanitiser from the essential commodities list from July 1, as common people and not just doctors use them to protect themselves.
Referring to the Centre’s stance that the government excluded them as there were no adverse reports from states regarding their availability or prices, the court said the Centre had taken a conscious decision. However, there was a drastic change in the situation after July 1, since the number of cases rose sharply, and with it, the usage of N-95 maks and sanitiser.
The bench also directed the State government to file an affidavit on three issues. First, the State must inform the court about the availability of N-95 masks and sanitiser, and whether there were any complaints regarding non-availability. Second, the State must place on record the difference in prices of the products depending on the manufacturer and lastly, the amount paid by the government in procuring N-95 masks for frontline workers. Both governments must file their affidavits by August 17, the bench said.