The Bombay High Court on Friday
directed the Union government to file an affidavit by May 27 clarifying whether it will impose a cap on the price of N95 masks.
A bench of Chief justice Dipankar Datta and Justice SS Shinde also permitted the Association of Medical Consultants, a private city based body, to intervene in the issue.
The bench was hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by Sucheta Dalal and Anjali Damania claiming such cap on pricing is required to curb black marketing of masks during the novel coronavirus outbreak.
On the previous hearing on May 19, the petitioners' counsel, senior advocate Mihir Desai, told the court there already existed a shortage of N95 masks for frontline healthcare workers and, therefore, it was imperative that hoarding or black marketing of such masks be prevented.
The Maharashtra government had, however, told the HC at the time that it had already written to the Centre seeking that a maximum ceiling be fixed for the sale price of N95 masks.
On Friday, the Centre's counsel Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh sought more time to respond to the plea.
While granting the Centre such time, the bench also allowed an intervention application filed by the Association of Medical Consultants that had told HC that the petitioners' grievance seeking a maximum price limit on the sale of such masks was a valid one.
"Having regard to the nature of controversy that has been projected before us, we are of the considered opinion that the opinion of medical consultants might be beneficial for due administration of justice," the bench said while allowing the intervention application.
As per the PIL, though N95 masks have been declared an essential commodity under Essential Commodities Act, hoarding and profiteering from their sale by black marketeers continues in the state.
Therefore, it was imperative government authorities ensured fair pricing of such masks, the plea says.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)