A Writ Petition is filed in Bombay High Court seeking directions to the Government of India and State Government of Maharashtra to furnish details of the seized up and / or confiscated materials, including Hand Sanitizers, Face Masks of all varieties, PPE Kits, etc and all equipment’s and materials (Inventory,in general) by various authorities, including State’s Police Officials.
The petitioner namely “Mohan Ram kisan Joshi” is an ex-Member of Legislative Council of Maharashtra State and is currently the General Secretaryof Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee, had filed the petition before the High Court of Bombay, whereby the respondents were the “Union of India” and “State of Maharashtra”.
“The Hon’ble Prime Minister of India announced the extension of the lockdown for 19 more days (till 03/05/2020) to come and have urged people to continue to stay at home as it is the only prevention from increasing contraction COVID-19. While navigating through COVID-19 pandemic, the Government declared essential ‘critical or key workers’ who are needed more than ever to ensure the safety of its citizens, including Doctors, nurses,other medical staff, cleaners and sweepers, Police Officials, essential commodities’ suppliers, delivery people etc. Throughout this harrowing and trying time, various Government Officials, including cleaning staff (Sanitization Department), Public Health Department, Police Department, etc are going out of their houses ensuring the reduction of risks to human health by providing and maintaining clean, sanitized and safe premises and environments so
to allow all the citizens to stay at their homes without many worries”, read the petition.
The petitioner further said that the incidents of black-market sale,jacked up stock of health essentials such as sanitizers, face masks,gloves, etc gravely harm the effects to control and prevent thescourge of this disease and the Petitioner had madeenquiries from the officials of Respondents after havinglearnt of the Police Department having seized many stockpiles ofmasks, which were being hoarded. The Petitioner also highlighted reports which were published in various news channels, papers, etc.
As reported Times of India –‘In the time of crisis over the shortage of face masks and handsanitizers, the Mumbai Police on Monday seized 25 lakhs maskswhich were being smuggled out of India’.
Similarly, thought-out the country, including State of Maharashtra, Government Officials, comprising State’s Police Department have raided various places and confiscated and / or seized such essential health equipment’s and materials and thereafter offences were registered by the concerned Investigating Authorities and the seized-up materials are, to the best of Petitioner’s knowledge, custodia-legis and / or under police custody, thesame being part of various ongoing investigations.
The petition also said that the State of Maharashtra is the worst hitand has succumbed to the pandemic of Novel COVID-19 like no other State. Therefore, keeping such crucial and vital health related equipment’s and materials seized-up and / or confiscated will not serve the interests of the society, especially in today’s dire need for the same, in the backdrop of thousands of Government Officials working even in these demanding times.
The Petitioner upon making enquiries from officials of Respondents learnt that there are no guidelines for release of such confiscated masks, which were seized by thePolice Department to Hospitals/Health Officials/ Care Givers.
“that prompt and timely allocation of such masks/PPE to the concerned and needy health officials will be crucial in preventing spread of Covid-19 and at the same time safeguard the health of doctors/first responders and care-givers. The Petitioner states that in the absence of any concrete policy on the seizures made of masks and PPE, in public interest, this Hon’ble Court maybe pleased to invoke its extra ordinary jurisdiction to issue directions to the Respondents for the purpose of timely and prompt allocation of such equipment”, said the petitioner.
Lastly, the petitioner sought directions from the High Court to the Central Government and State Government of Maharashtra to deal with said such seized up and / or confiscated materials, including Hand Sanitizers, Face Masks of all varieties, PPE Kits, etc and all equipment’s and materials (Inventory, ingeneral) by various authorities, including State’s Police Officials and if possible, to handover the said such materials and equipment’s to the concerned government authorities to distribute them to the active working government officials, including all medical staff (Doctors, nurses, etc) Police Officials on duty, cleaners and sweepers, etc.
-India Legal Bureau