New Delhi [India], May 28 (ANI): A PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court on Friday seeking a direction that Centre and State governments should invoke National Security Act (NSA) against persons involved in hoarding, profiteering, adulteration and black marketing and seize their 100 per cent Benami properties and disproportionate assets.
The plea filed by Advocate Ashwini Upadhyay also asked for 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 the Indian Penal Code.
It further sought direction that Section 31 of CrPC shall not apply to the laws relating to hoarding, profiteering, adulteration and black marketing and the sentence shall be consecutive, not concurrent.
In the alternative, it is prayed that the Court 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.
The plea said that the petitioner came to know through newspapers that many EWS and BPL citizens died outside hospitals though beds were available.
"It is the duty of the State to protect the life of citizens, but it has totally failed in its obligation during this time of crisis. 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 added.
As per the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, sale of spurious drugs likely to cause death or grievous hurt carries a sentence of ten years, besides a fine of Rs 10 lakh or three times the value of the drugs seized, the plea said, adding that the sentence and financial penalties must be stiff enough to pay for reimbursement and compensation to victims.
If there is a direct link between loss of life and hoarding, profiteering, adulteration and black marketing, then financial penalty must cover the compensation to the victim's family, it added.
The Petitioner further stated that hoarding, profiteering, adulteration and black marketing is done through cash, hence, respective agencies must investigate black money, Benami property and disproportionate assets.
Amid a surge in COVID cases in India, the demand for oxygen supply has soared in hospitals across the country, said the petition.
"Several hospitals have reported an acute shortage of medical oxygen, an essential resource needed for the treatment of coronavirus patients. As demand increased, the black market for medical oxygen grew exponentially. As India faces a shortage of oxygen supply, profiteers are using this public healthcare crisis to charge exorbitant prices, sometimes even a hundred times the market price," the plea said.
"One news channel conducted an investigation in Delhi and found out that an oxygen vendor was selling gas cylinders for fifty times the marked price. Therefore, the Centre must enact stern provisions against profiteering," the plea contended.
The offences of hoarding, profiteering, adulteration, black marketing must be non-bailable, non-compoundable with a hefty fine, it said, adding that there should be specially designated fast courts and regulatory infrastructure. (ANI)