Notices issued on plea against shortage, price hike of face masks

Updated 29 Feb 2020

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The bench remarked that panic had been created in the name of coronavirus in the city. — AFP or licensors
The bench remarked that panic had been created in the name of coronavirus in the city. — AFP or licensors

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Friday issued notices to the health secretary and Karachi commissioner on a petition against alleged shortage of surgical masks and their sale at inflated prices in the province following confirmation of two coronavirus cases in the country.

A two-judge bench comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Yousuf Ali Sayeed directed the respondents to file comments till March 10.

The petition was jointly filed by Nadeem A. Shaikh and Saleem Michael, who submitted that the prices of surgical masks had been increased in the province besides their acute shortage.

At the outset, the bench members inquired from the petitioners’ counsel as to who said that wearing a mask was compulsory to preventing getting coronavirus.

They further asked the counsel whether he had seen a recent press conference of doctors in this regard. The bench remarked that panic had been created in the name of coronavirus in the city.

SHC seeks report on implementation of law against sale, manufacture of gutka, mainpuri

However, the bench issued notices to the provincial health secretary, the Karachi commissioner and others and adjourned the hearing till March 10.

In the petition, it was submitted that after two cases of coronavirus were reported in the country the price of surgical mask had been increased and people complained about an artificial shortage of the masks all over the country.

Sale of gutka, mainpuri

The same bench, meanwhile, issued notices to the provincial home secretary and the inspector general of police with a direction to submit their reports regarding a mechanism to ensure implementation on law recently passed by the provincial assembly against the sale and manufacture of gutka and mainpuri in the province.

This direction came after a provincial law officer submitted that the assembly had passed the Sindh Prohibition of Preparation, Manufacturing, Storage, Sale and Use of Gutka and Manpuri Bill, 2019.

However, the law officer said that the assistance was required from the provincial home department to effectively implement the law and requested that a directive may be issued to the home secretary in this regard.

The bench issued notices to the home secretary and the IGP asking them to come up with their respective reports regarding the mechanism to ensure implementation on the relevant law in an effective manner.

The bench also directed the provincial health department to ensure provision of better medical treatment facilities to the petitioner, who was suffering from cancer.

The petitioner said that she could not afford to avail medical treatment facilities at private hospitals and requested directives may be issued to the relevant government authorities to provide her treatment at the expenses to be borne by the state.

A direction was also sought for the relevant police and other authorities to curb the manufacturing and sale of gutka, mainpuri and other forms of chewing tobacco hazardous to human health in the province.

The petitioner submitted that she got infected with cancer after consuming gutka and was unable to avail expensive medical treatment facilities on her own.

Published in Dawn, February 29th, 2020