HC disposes plea after state assures disposal of seized PPE to frontline workersUpdated: May 20, 2020 16:51 IST
The Bombay high court (HC) on Tuesday disposed of a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Mohan Joshi, general secretary of the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC), after the state told the bench that a competent authority under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, has already ordered the release of some of the crucial and vital medical protective equipment and resources seized by the state’s investigating agencies to the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. The PIL had sought proper disposal of properties under seizure so that it could reach those in the frontline in the battle against Covid-19.
The division bench of chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice SS Shinde, while hearing the PIL through video conferencing, was informed by advocate Vishal Kanade, appearing for Joshi, that since the centre had announced the Covid-19 pandemic, there had been many instances of black marketing and stockpiling of sanitizers, face masks, gloves and other protective equipment. The police had raided and seized these stockpiles.
Kanade submitted that in light of a shortage of the protective medical equipment, the petition sought directions to the state to furnish a list of the seized material, action taken after the seizure and to direct the authorities to hand over the material to concerned authorities to distribute it among the frontline workers.
The state, through government pleader Poornima Kantharia, submitted an affidavit wherein it was mentioned that the competent authority, under the Essential Commodities Act, had passed interim orders detailing the procedure for disposal of such seized properties but making it clear that such arrangement would be subject to the orders of the criminal court.
Kanade informed the court that though the interim orders of the competent authority were challenged in judicial proceedings the same were not stayed and hence the HC should direct the state to implement the interim orders.
Kantharia then submitted that action was being taken in terms of the orders of the competent authority and a part of the seized properties had been handed over to the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai.
After hearing the submissions the court observed, “So long the orders of the competent authority are not disturbed in judicial proceedings, the state shall make all possible endeavour to implement such orders and ensure that in these trying times the seized properties do reach the end-users for combating Covid-19.” It then disposed of the petition.