New Delhi: The Delhi High Court issued directions to three private companies, importing COVID-19 testing kits from China, to revise the selling price from Rs 600 to Rs 400 per kit as approved by the Indian Council of Medical Reserach (ICMR). Also Read - Mumbai to Open Drive-in Vaccination Centres in Several Areas. Check List

The court noted that COVID-19 test kits should be made available urgently at the lowest possible price so that the virus can be controlled and people’s health can be safeguarded at a time when the country was facing an “unprecedented medical crisis”. Also Read - Covid-19: CSK Star Suresh Raina Urges For Oxygen, Bollywood Actor Sonu Sood Responds With Help

The court said that in the “present extraordinary circumstances” when the country was going through an “unprecedented medical crisis”, with a disquiet over one’s safety and the economy at a standstill, the public interest must outweigh the private. Also Read - Extend Karnataka Lockdown by 2 Weeks as State Yet to Reach Peak in Coronavirus Cases, Recommends Expert

“The litigation between the parties (the three companies) should give way to the larger public good. In view of the above, the kits/tests should be sold at a price not beyond Rs 400 each,” it said.

However, the order would not affect price of the kits to be sold to ICMR and the Tamil Nadu government. The order came on the plea of Rare Metabolics Life Sciences Pvt Ltd and Aark Pharmaceuticals which had entered into an agreement with Matrix Labs, the importer of the kits, to distribute the kits in India.

Rare Metabolics and Aark, the petitioner companies, moved the court seeking release of 7.24 lakh COVID-19 test kits from Matrix which was seeking full payment upfront before delivering them. Out of the 7.24 lakh kits, five lakh were to be supplied to ICMR by Aark at a total cost of Rs 30 crore, the court was told. According to the petition, the initial order was for 10 lakh kits of which five lakh were meant for ICMR. Out of the five lakh meant for ICMR, 2.76 lakh had already been delivered, the plea said.

(With agency inputs)