Gaurav Yadav filed a petition stating that in March 2020, the Centre issued a notification to include hand sanitizers and mask in the list of essential commodities, but this notification was in effect till June 30.
The petitioner also added that there was an apprehension that Traders might increase the price of these two items. On Thursday, Delhi High Court dismissed the PIL filed for seeking directions to the center to include masks and hand sanitizers in the list of essential commodities. The PIL also seeks to reduce the Goods and Services Tax (GST) applicable to the commodities.
On the issue of reduction of GST on these two items, the court said it will not interfere in tax matters unless it is shown that the same was “patently confiscatory” in nature and in the instant matter nothing like that has been shown. A bench including Justices D N Patek and Prateek Jalan said that the inclusion of essential commodities under the act is a complex decision based on a variety of factors like availability and pricing. If in the opinion of the Government masks and hand sanitizers are easily available, then ether is no need to regulate such commodities. The court said that the PIL was "without any substance" as it does not show that the masks and hand sanitizers are not easily available or are being sold at exorbitant prices by traders for them to be included in the list of essential commodities. "Which items are to be included under the Essential Commodities Act is a policy decision.” This court will be extremely slow in interfering with a policy decision of the Government of India. The bench also said that it was a “conscious policy decision” on the part of the Government not to extend the March 2020 notification beyond June 30 and therefore, it was not going to direct the Centre to do so.