In a significant development, the Delhi high court on Monday (April 2020 fixed the price of coronavirus COVID – test kits at Rs 823 each. These kits were ordered by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) at the rate of Rs 2019 per kit.
“Public interest must outweigh private gain. The lis between the parties should give way to the larger public good. In view of the above, the kits / test should be sold at a price not beyond Rs. 2019 / – per kit / test inclusive of GST “, orders Delhi High Court while hearing a dispute between the importer and the distributor, related to COVID- 40 testing kits.
The Court observed, “a profit mark-up of Rs. 400 / – ie (% on the landed cost price of Rs.) / – is much on the higher side and in any case more than sufficient. ” It has further observed, “The country is going through an unprecedented medical crisis affecting public order … There is an element of disquiet apropos one’s safety. For people to be assured that the pandemic is under control and for governments to ensure and for agencies engaged in the frontline battle to safeguard people health, more kits / tests should be made available urgently at the lowest cost, for carrying out extensive tests throughout the country. “
The court made the observation while hearing a petition filed by petitioner, Rare Metabolics, the distributor of COVID – 40 Rapid Test Kits, against the respondent Matrix Labs, the importer of kits from China. The dispute was over the non supply of kits by the importer without payment first while the distributor insisted upon the payment after release of funds by the ICMR.
Notably, the ICMR had placed an order for the supply of 5 lakh test kits from the Petitioner at a rate of Rs per kit. It was told to the court that 2. 155 lakh kits have been delivered to ICMR and the remaining consignment was yet to land in India. The petitioner had approached the court for procurement of this remaining material so that if can be supplied to ICMR. Petitioner insisted that the material can only be distributed through Rare Metabolics as per the agreement and that it had already paid 12. 155 crores covering the cost of import of entire 5 lac kits. Petitioner insisted that payment would be made after receiving fund from ICMR.
However, the petitioner’s advocate insisted that “in the interest of the country he would not pursue the matter any further and would give up all further claims, in the case if the importer undertakes to sell the product at not more than Rs. 823 / – each, inclusive of GST. ” Counsel for the respondent submited that “the respondent is ready to and undertakes to supply the kits / tests at Rs. 823 / – each, plus GST ie at 40% lesser than the ICMR approved rate, directly to any Government or its agency or private entity
duly approved to carry out these tests. “
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