July-20 Settled in court

The Coronavirus pandemic has resulted in many unprecedented issues arising for citizens. The courts are conducting virtual hearings through video conferring and along with other important cases, attending to urgent issues arising due to the COVID-19 crisis.  We bring you some cases, in brief, which have impacted consumers in this situation.


PIL in Bombay HC to cap prices of N95 masks

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in the Bombay High Court against rampant black marketing and profiteering in the sale of N95 face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic by journalist Sucheta Dalal and activist Anjali Damania.

Their NGOs had procured N95 masks at the rate of Rs. 40-60 to provide these to frontline medical workers. On trying to procure again, they were told that the entire stock was taken over by the Government.  Meanwhile, they were contacted by multiple sellers offering to sell the N95 masks at a markup of over 150%.


Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution notified an order under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 on 13 March, to declare 2 ply and 3 ply surgical masks, N95 masks and hand sanitisers as essential commodities till June 30, 2020. It has also issued an advisory under the Legal Metrology Act to ensure that they are not sold at prices above MRP.


The court was requested to ensure adequate availability of masks at fair prices. Confiscation of hoarded N95 masks and prosecution of companies/ individuals doing so for illegal profiteering was also requested.

Action taken

The HC asked the Centre on 19 May to reply by 22 May as to why there is no cap on the prices of N95 masks, especially since it has been notified as an essential commodity. Subsequently, on 21 May, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has asked all suppliers of N95 masks to maintain parity in prices and make them available at reasonable process. However, they have not indicated a reasonable price or capped the price of the masks.


[Source: www.livelaw.in, www.barandbench.com]



SC seeks response from Centre, DGCA for refund of tickets cancelled due to lockdown


A petition has been filed before the Supreme Court by the NGO Pravasi Legal Cell seeking that both domestic and international airlines be directed to refund full amount for tickets cancelled due to suspension of all flights on account of COVID-19, without levy of cancellation charge. Airlines are providing a credit shell valid upto one year instead of granting full refund for tickets so cancelled.


Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has issued a notification on 16 April directing all airlines to refund full amount for tickets booked during the lockdown period. It left out the vast majority of people who had booked tickets for flights before the lockdown and flights ban.



Civil Aviation Requirement of May 2008 issued by the DGCA clearly states that the option of holding the refund amount in credit shell by the airlines shall be the prerogative of the passenger and not a default practice of the airline. It sets a limit of 30 working days for airlines to complete the refund process for tickets.



Action taken

The SC bench heard the matter through video-conferencing and issued notices on 27 April to the Centre and the DGCA on the plea that urged the court to declare the non-refund of tickets as illegal and violative of DGCA issued Civil Aviation Requirement.


[Source: The order of the Supreme Court of India (Record of proceedings), dated 27 April 2020 on Writ Petition (Civil) No. 10966/2020]

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