A plea has been filed before the Supreme Court seeking stricter punishment to control hoarding, profiteering, adulteration and black marketing of items such as medicines, medical equipments and oxygen cylinders during COVID-19 pandemic. The petition, filed by advocate and BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, also sought direction to the Centre and states to invoke the National Security Act against people involved in these activities and seize their 100 per cent "benami properties and disproportionate assets".
Several people lost their family members due to hoarding of beds, profiteering, adulteration in medicines and black marketing, it alleged. The plea also urged the apex court to rule that the punishment for offences for hoarding, profiteering, adulteration and black marketing and the sentence shall be consecutive, not concurrent.
It sought a direction to the Centre to examine the International Laws relating to hoarding, profiteering, adulteration and black marketing and take appropriate steps to insert a Chapter for these offences in IPC. “In alternative, direct the Law Commission of India to examine International Laws related to Hoarding, Adulteration, Profiteering and Black Marketing and prepare a Report within three months,” it urged the court.
“Thousands of EWS and BPL citizens died on streets, in vehicles, in hospitals compounds and their homes due to hoarding of hospital beds, adulterated COVID medicines, black marketing of medical equipment's like oxygen cylinder and huge profiteering in the sale of life saving injections like Remdesivir, Tocilizumab etc.,” the plea said.
The petition added that in Delhi itself, Remdesivir injection was sold at the rate of Rs 70,000 though its price is Rs 899. “Similarly, large number of oxygen concentrators and oxygen cylinders were recovered from different places,” it added. It claimed that due to ineffective outdated vague laws,government has totally failed to control hoarding of beds in hospitals, spurious medicine generation, profiteering, adulteration and black marketing, since this pandemic has started.
“District Administration has even failed to control manufacture and sale of fake sanitizers, mask, thermometer, oximeter, nebulizer etc. “Though, around 300 FIRs have been lodged against the person for hording, profiteering, adulteration and black-marketing. Butneither NSA invoked nor their assets seized,” it said.