September 20, 2021 7:09:55 pm
The Delhi High Court Monday stayed proceedings in a criminal complaint filed by Delhi’s Drugs Control Department against Gautam Gambhir Foundation (GGF) before a Rohini court. The complaint, filed under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, alleged unauthorised stocking and distribution of a Covid drug during a medical camp held by the foundation during the second wave in Delhi.
Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar passed the interim order in a quashing petition filed by the GGF and others. Issuing notice to the Drugs Control Department and seeking a reply, the court listed the case for hearing on December 8. “Till then, the proceedings are stayed,” it said.
The GGF trustees — BJP MP Gautam Gambhir, his wife Natasha Gambhir, his mother Seema Gambhir and CEO Aparajita Singh — are accused in the case. The Drugs Control Department has alleged that GGF did not hold a license for stocking or distribution of the drugs, including medical oxygen. The accused have contravened the provisions of Section 18 (c) of the Drugs & Cosmetics Act, 1940 & Rules thereunder and therefore have committed an offence which is punishable under Section 27(b)(ii) of the Act, the department said in its complaint before the trial court in July.
Senior advocate Atmaram N S Nadkarni, representing the petitioners, argued before the court that this was not a matter where anyone hoarded medicine for the purpose of making money or enriching himself. “Unless the element of sale is there, the distribution or sticking by itself won’t be an offence,” Nadkarni argued while referring to a Supreme Court judgement.
In the petition filed by GGF and others through advocate Jai Anant Dehadrai, it has been argued that the Drugs Control Department ought to have considered that Covid has been declared as a pandemic and that the “community support and charity services” provided by them to suffering 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 contends further.
“Initiating criminal proceedings against social workers who, without care for their own safety, went over and above their call of duty to be of service to their fellow citizens would be a gross miscarriage of justice,” reads the petition.
Gautam Gambhir Foundation 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 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 the illegal distribution of medicines during the second wave.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.