Updated: June 3, 2021 7:57:18 pm
Delhi’s Drug Control Department Thursday told the Delhi High Court that former cricketer and BJP MP Gautam Gambhir’s foundation was involved in “unauthorised purchase/procurement, stocking and distribution” of Favipiravir — a drug being used to treat Covid-19 — and medical oxygen, which is not permitted by the law and that action would be taken against it and others.
“By doing so, M/S Gautam Gambhir Foundation has contravened the provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 & Rules thereunder and therefore has committed an offence which is prosecutable/punishable under Section 27 (b) (iii) and 27 (d) of the said Act,” said the department in an investigation report placed before the court.
The division bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh directed the Drug Controller to file a status report on the action taken in the next six weeks.
“We want to curb this tendency. This should not happen that people hoard just because they have the resource and say that we are now going to distribute it to a particular section of the society whether they are in my constituency or because I want to gain popularity, I want to prepare for my next election. This shouldn’t be the criteria. We want to curb this and want you to take action so that it becomes a lesson for others that they don’t indulge in these practices again,” it said.
The court also said Gambhir may have acted out of public spirit but he had to see the pros and cons of his actions: “You may be trying to help the people in your constituency but at what expense? At the expense of people who needed it. You did charity no doubt, but you also caused a shortage which could not have been felt to that extent (otherwise). When genuine patients needed that medicine, they could not get it.”
The department told the court it is established that his foundation does not hold any drug licence as required by the law for purchase, stocking, or distribution of the drugs.
The court was also told that showcause notices have been issued to the dealers who sold the medicine and medical oxygen to his foundation.
Last week, the court had rapped the Drugs Control Department for giving a clean chit to Gambhir without a proper inquiry into how his foundation was able to procure a Covid-19 drug in bulk and asked the Drug Controller to file a better status report before it by Thursday.
The division bench had said the court’s confidence was completely shaken and observed that the report was not worth the paper it is written on, while rejecting it. “If your Drug Controller is not interested in doing the job, then we will ask that he be removed and let somebody else take over. What investigation? This is trash. There is no legal basis to it,” the court had said.
In his statement dated May 14, Gambhir had told Delhi Police that the 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. The camp remained under the supervision and control of Dr Manish of Garg Hospital, he said in the reply.
“A total of 2,628 strips of Fabiflu were purchased from authorised vendors against prescription… given by Dr Sanjay Garg (Garg Hospital). 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.
He had also said that “unprecedented and desperate situations call for desperate measures and remedies”.
On Thursday, the department told the court Garg Hospital has now clarified that their role was limited to providing supervision with respect to scrutiny and verification of the prescriptions brought by the attendants or patients, and were not directly or indirectly involved in the procurement, stocking, and distribution of the medicines.
Meanwhile, the department also told the court that AAP MLA Praveen Kumar was found to have been involved in unauthorised purchase or procurement and stocking of medical oxygen in contravention of the law. Kumar had organised a temporary oxygen refilling facility from May 4 to May 19 in Lajpat Nagar and refilled cylinders in Punjab’s Bathinda.
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