The Delhi government has told the Delhi High Court that favipiravir, a Covid drug, was distributed by non-medical staff of Gautam Gambhir Foundation (GFF) at a medical camp organised by it in April-May and argued that a charitable distribution is not exempted from the activity that requires a licence under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.
In response to the petition filed by the GFF for quashing of the criminal complaint filed by Delhi’s Drugs Control department against the foundation and its trustees – BJP MP Gautam Gambhir, his wife Natasha Gambhir, his mother Seema Gambhir and the CEO Aparajita Singh – before a Rohini court, the department said that Garg Hospital doctors have belied their claim that the camp was organised in association with the health institute.
“The role of M/s Garg Hospital was limited to verification of the prescriptions of Registered Medical Practitioners brought by the attendant of the patients in the medical camp. However, the medicine was purchased by M/s GGF,” said the department in its reply, adding that GFF did not hold any licence for purchasing, stocking or distribution of the drugs.
The court had on September 20 stayed the proceeding in the department’s criminal complaint and asked it respond to the petition moved by the GFF. The accused have contravened the provisions of Section 18 (c) of the Drugs & Cosmetics Act, 1940 & Rules thereunder and therefore have committed an offence punishable under Section 27(b)(ii) of the Act, the department said in its complaint before the trial court in July.
GFF, in the petition filed through advocate Jai Anant Dehadrai, has argued that the Drugs Control department ought to have considered that Covid-19 has been declared a pandemic and that the “community support and charity services” provided by them to families ought not to have been penalised. The public health infrastructure had virtually collapsed “on account of the failure of the state government”, the petition contended.
Stressing that GFF was found to be in possession of the Covid drug despite there being an acute shortage in the national capital, the government in the reply accused GFF of using the petition for political purposes. “There is no basis to suggest that anyone approached the Petitioner for any assistance and there is no basis to suggest that the State government health authorities failed to address shortages. It is vehemently denied that the Petitioner is being persecuted out of vengeance and the record of the High Court Proceedings itself suggests otherwise,” reads the reply.
GFF had organised a free medical camp at Jagriti Enclave from April 22 to May 7 to provide assistance to people suffering from Covid, according to a statement given by the BJP to Delhi Police in May. “A total of 2,628 strips of Fabiflu were purchased from authorised vendors against prescription… Respective invoices were obtained by the foundation from the vendors for said purchase,” Gambhir had said, adding that 2,343 strips of the drug were distributed free of cost to attendants of Covid-19 patients against the prescription produced by them.
The department had initiated inquiries into the complaints alleging unlawful distribution of Covid drugs and oxygen in pursuance of orders passed by the High Court in June in a petition filed by Dr Deepak Singh. The petition alleged that a “medical mafia-politicians nexus” was in existence, and they were indulging in illegal distribution of medicines during the second wave.
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