New Delhi, Dec 2 (IANS) Why should emergency services be affected during doctors' strike, asked the Supreme Court on Monday as it agreed to examine a plea seeking contempt proceedings against the Centre and the Indian Medical Association (IMA) for allegedly violating its order in the strike by doctors in West Bengal this year.
A bench, headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices B.R. Gavai and Surya Kant, issued notice to Centre and IMA. The court also observed that under any circumstances, there cannot be any compromise on the treatment of critically ill patients.
The contempt plea, filed by NGO People for Better Treatment, said: "The contemnors (IMA) herein, being the largest medical group in India and the Ministry of Health, are absolutely liable for the deliberate and blatant breach and disobedience of the November, 2014 order of the Supreme Court."
The NGO's head, Kunal Shah, an AIDS researcher based in US' Ohio, cited the 2014 apex court order, where the court categorically held that doctors should not go on strike on any condition, to emphasise that the strike by doctors violated it.
The plea said the IMA was involved in the nationwide protest to express solidarity with doctors in West Bengal, and this impacted health services adversely. It contended that doctors' strike in India directly impacts defenceless patients, and leaders of IMA have turned a blind eye on it, as it slammed "..the overtly reckless, uncaring, immoral and unlawful attitude of our medical leaders, in particular by the leaders of IMA".
The plea said the IMA violated the top court's order by expressing solidarity with the striking doctors in Kolkata in June this year, and therefore, it amounts to a contemptuous act.
By Nirbhay Kumar
New Delhi, Dec 16 (IANS) Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) firms have topped the list of customers complaints list for over-charging ever since the new indirect tax regime Goods and Services Tax (GST) was rolled out on July 1, 2017.
Restaurateurs came second, followed by entertainment and media firms.
As per official data, as many as 42 consumer complaints were registered against various FMCG companies with many of them found to be not passing the benefits of lower tax rates.
As GST rates were cut across various categories in the GST Council meetings to reduce tax incidence on consumers, the companies were expected to pass on the benefit by lowering prices in proportion to the rate reduction.
It was, however, found that many companies had not passed on the benefit of lower tax and indulged in profiteering. Complaints were later filed against them and the GST anti-profiteering watchdog National Anti-profiteering Authority (NAA) took up the cases.
Some of the FMCG majors like Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL), Procter & Gamble India (P&G) and Nestle were found to have profiteered from the lower tax regime.
In the latest case, the NAA last week ordered Nestle to deposit Rs 73.15 crore with Consumer Welfare Fund for not passing GST rate reduction benefit to consumers. The FMCG major has, however, said that it will consider appropriate action after studying the same.
Experts said that it is very difficult for FMCG companies to assess the exact impact of the lower tax given that they have multiple similar products in one category.
Moreover, they sell products for as low as Rs 2 for a shampoo pouch and when the rate is lowered they are not in the position to exactly assess the impact on price. Even if the assessment is done and it is found that the price should be lower by 30 paise, transaction becomes difficult as currency of that amount is not available.
"Because of multiple products of similar kind it is difficult for FMCG companies to arrive at a particular price. There are very small units like toffee selling for Re 1. In this case it will be very difficult to arrive at net impact of rate cut," said Amit Bhagat, Partner, Dhruva Advisors.
Besides FMCG, many restaurants are also facing complaints with 14 cases being lodged. Two complaints were filed against sanitary ware firms. Media and entertainment firms have six complaints against them.
(Nirbhay Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)