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February 29, 2020

SHC issues notices on plea against shortage, price-hike of face masks

National

February 29, 2020

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Friday issued notices to the federal ministry of national health services, the provincial health secretary, the Karachi commissioner and others on a petition against shortage of standard face masks after the confirmation of two positive coronavirus cases in the country.

Petitioner Nadeem Sheikh submitted in the petition that the health authorities had confirmed two positive cases of coronavirus in the country who had travelled to Iran for the pilgrimage of holy sites.

The petitioner’s counsel, Shahab Sarki, submitted that the prices of surgical face masks had increased after the confirmation of the coronavirus cases whereas surgical masks had also disappeared from various medical stores. He submitted that a box of surgical masks which used to be sold at Rs300 to Rs400 was now being charged Rs2,000.

He submitted that it was the responsibility of the government to control the increase in the mask prices so that black marketing of masks could be stopped and they were available to the public at large.

A division bench of the SHC headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar observed that it was a matter of grave concern that surgical face masks were being sold at exorbitant prices. The high court issued notices to the federal ministry of national health services, the Sindh health secretary, the Karachi commissioner and others and called their comments on March 3.

The court also directed that the health additional secretary and a representative of the Karachi Commissioner Office shall be in attendance on next date of hearing.

Gutka, mainpuri

The SHC issued notices to the Sindh inspector general of police and the home secretary on a petition seeking action against selling and manufacturing of gutka and mainpuri in the province.

Petitioner Sanober submitted in the petition that she was diagnosed with oral cancer due to the consumption of gutka and mainpuri and requested the high court to direct the police and law enforcement agencies to take action against the manufacturers of gutka and mainpuri and stop their sale in the province.

The Zaman Town SHO submitted that a case had been registered against manufacturers of gutka and mainpuri under the section 336-B and 337-J of the Pakistan Penal Code, and sought time to arrest culprits involved in the manufacture of the hazardous products.

A Sindh additional advocate general submitted a copy of the Sindh Prohibition of Manufacturing, Trade, Sale, Use of Gutka and Mainpuri Act and said that some directions were necessary to be issued to the home department and the IGP for the effective implementation of the law so that society may be saved from the menace of gutka and mainpuri.

A health department officer informed the SHC that the petitioner could get medical treatment from the oncology department of the Civil Hospital free of charge.

A provincial law officer submitted that the petitioner could approach the Zakat and Usher department for financial assistance. The high court directed the Korangi industrial zone representatives to file comments on the petition and adjourned the hearing till March 10.