Madras HC | State cannot be mandated to provide free face masks & hand sanitizers through Public Distribution System to people living below poverty line

Madras High Court: A Division Bench of Vineet Kothari and Pushpa Sathyanarayana, JJ., addressed a petition wherein the direction was sought  to provide free face mask and hand sanitizer through pubic distribution scheme in order to eradicate COVID-19 and regulate its retails price in market.

Government Pleader filed an affidavit in which details regarding availability and distribution of face masks and hand sanitizers were detailed.

Bench on being satisfied with the steps taken by the State Government to make available face masks and hand sanitizers in the places where the public gather in large numbers and State cannot be mandated to make available free face masks and hand sanitizers through Public Distribution System to the people living below poverty line.

Further the Court added that, Government has already issued reasonable guidelines for the above matter and they are distributing free face masks and hand sanitizers to people where

“…the authorities are of the opinion that distribution of such free face masks and hand sanitizers would be in the interest of the general public where they gather for buying their essentials etc. and that will prevent the spread of the COVID disease by gatherings in the containment zones or otherwise.”

Thus Court leaves it to the best and fair discretion of the State for taking any policy decision in the best interest of public. [R. Dhineshkumar v. State of T.N., 2020 SCC OnLine Mad 984 , decided on 12-05-2020]

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