IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

Profiteering during a pandemic

4th August, 2020 Polity


  • Soon after the government imposed a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19, prices of essential items shot up in several places across the country.


  • Slowly, as cases grew, reports were published of private hospitals overcharging patients, even after State governments capped COVID-19 treatment charges.
  • The cost of medicines too shot up. In Srinagar, Remdesivir was being sold for as much as ₹36,000 against the normal rate of ₹6,000.
  • Ambulance owners too chose to make good money in these pandemic times. For transporting patients up to a distance of about 10-15 km, they charged as much as ₹30,000 in Mumbai.
  • Way back in 1897, the British enacted the Epidemic Diseases Act, which empowered the government to implement any measures that would prevent the outbreak or spread of any disease. According to the law, anyone disobeying the orders of any public servant can be punished under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code.


  • Since exploiting the common man in such times has to be sternly dealt with, a provision ought to be incorporated in the Disaster Management Act of 2005 to make overcharging the public a punishable offence.
  • There are several instances of the general public having been subjected to misery and agony in the months following enforcement of the lockdown.
  • Denying admission in hospitals, refusing to bury the dead in cemeteries, etc. need to be made punishable offences. The horror stories of this pandemic give us an opportunity to do so.