Balwinder Singh, who murdered Punjab Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) officer Dr Neha Shoree, was reportedly notorious for selling intoxicants. The FDA inquiry instituted after the killing found that his pharmacy in Morinda had been raided many times before Shoree cancelled his licence.
It was in 1995 that Balwinder Singh, who had done Diploma in Pharmacy (D. Pharma), first got a licence to run a chemist shop under his name. Sources in the FDA disclosed that despite frequent raids, he was neither booked nor his licence cancelled until Shoree intervened in 2009.
“Between 1995 and 2005, Balwinder Singh’s shop was raided seven times after the department received complaints that he was selling intoxicants…he was notorious for this in the area,” FDA’s Joint Commissioner Pardeep Kumar Mattu said.
Perturbed over the raids, Balwinder Singh closed his shop in 2005 and successfully applied for a new licence in the name of his father Gurbachan Singh. It was business as usual until the FDA again raided his shop in 2006 and suspended his licence for one week after finding intoxicants. At that time, Shoree had not joined the department and was doing her post-graduation at the NIPER. Mattu said Balwinder used to apply for licence in the name of another person, then run the shop.
As per rules, a person without a Pharmacy degree can apply for a chemist’s licence, but the proprietor must appoint a qualified pharmacist to sell medicines.
A police officer privy to the investigation said after the cancellation of his shop’s licence in 2009, Balwinder applied for a licence in his wife Darshan Kaur’s name in 2010 when Shoree was posted as the drug inspector in Ropar. She was promoted as Zonal Licensing Authority in 2013 and was posted in Mohali as ZLA since 2016.
SHOREE SUSPENDED 114 LICENSES
Dr Neha Shoree was considered a ‘strict’ officer in her department and was known to issue licences purely on merit. A chemist, who did not want to be named, said how she did not issue him a licence until he completed all the formalities. ‘’I even got some people to put in a word for me, but she did not budge.’’
Shoree was known for taking on people selling intoxicants at chemist shops. After joining as ZLA in October 2016, she cancelled two licences and suspended 117. FDA commissioner Kahan Singh Pannu said Shoree was considered a person who would not do anything without verifying facts.