Take fresh decision on capping price of N95 masks: Bombay HC to Centre

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MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Tuesday directed the

Centre

to reconsider its pricing stand on N95 masks to bring it in conformity with the Drug pricing law. The Centre, represented by additional solicitor general Anil Singh, said it would do so in ten days.
The Centre said that at a meeting held last month it was felt that capping may prove premature and act as a disincentive for the

domestic manufacturer

.
However, the HC bench of Chief Justice

Dipankar Datta

and Justice S S Shinde directed the Centre to take a “fresh decision” within 10 days, but not beyond two weeks.
The HC was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by

Sucheta Dalal

and Anjali Damania, former AAP member, who through their counsel

Mihir Desai

wanted the price of these essential masks to be capped by the Centre, at a time when their supply was falling short. The HC said they were “entitled to relief , limited only to reconsideration of capping the price of N95 masks.’’
The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA)—set up under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers-- had in its affidavit pointed to a May 15 meeting attended by the ministries where stakeholders were against any price capping at this point but said would do so in future, if required. The NPPA, however, said on its request to manufacturers to have “reasonable prices’’, they dropped the price by up to 47%.
N95 masks are notified as “drugs’’ and comes under Drugs (prices Control) Order of 2013 which means its maximum retails price cannot increase by more than 10 percent of what it was in the preceding 12 months. This point is what the bench focused on.
“It appeared to us that relevant considerations had been ignored in reaching the conclusions recorded in the minutes of the meeting dated May 15, 2020, and that there was a need for the Central Government to take appropriate decision regarding price capping of N-95 masks,’’ said the HC while disposing the PIL.

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