Updated: May 28, 2021 5:23:26 am
The Bombay High Court on Thursday directed the state government to proceed with a probe into how some politicians and film personalities procured essential drugs and injections for Covid-19 treatment for people when allocation of such drugs, “available in scarce quantities in the country,” was solely at the discretion of the central government, which distributes it to the states.
The Court observed that the said personalities might have “noble intention” to help others but do not have any authority to procure drugs without the knowledge of the state and through “extra-legal” methods.
A division bench of Justice A A Sayed and Justice Girish S Kulkarni was on Thursday hearing a clutch of PILs alleging improper Covid-19 management in Maharashtra and seeking directions pertaining to shortage of remdesivir and medical oxygen supply, and urging monitoring of black-marketing and profiteering allegedly taking place during procurement and distribution of key drugs.
Representing Maharashtra Government, advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni while enumerating compliances of earlier HC orders, informed the court that the Drugs Inspector had issued notices to actor Sonu Sood’s Charity foundation, Mumbai Congress MLA Zeeshan Siddique and a few others related to procurement of drugs.
Probe in this regard is underway and the report will be submitted to the court once it is completed, he added.
Kumbhakoni said that Sood and Siddique, according to their replies to the Drugs Inspector, had not purchased or stocked the medicines and injections and claimed to have only acted as “facilitators”.
Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh submitted before the court that the Central government had already questioned the manufacturers and they had denied having supplied the drugs to any politician or celebrity.
“Can you (state) believe their replies? They (politicians and celebrities) might be doing it bonafide, but not realising the legal repercussions. They want to help somebody but it has to be within the parameters of law. Those who want to help, let them do that with procedures known to the government. We cannot pass any orders against them as they are not before us. Let the state proceed with its inquiry and caution them,” HC said.
The HC will hear the PILs in the matter next on June 2.
Consider making oxygen units a must for private hospitals: HC to Maha govt
The HC asked the Maharashtra government to consider passing an ordinance making it mandatory for private hospitals to have their own oxygen manufacturing units to meet the demands during the pandemic. “There is a possibility of a third wave. We should learn from past mistakes and need to have some plan in place to prepare for any eventuality,” the bench said.
Meanwhile, the state government submitted before the court that fire audits of 479 out of 520 government hospitals and health centres providing Covid-19 treatment have already been completed, and that mock fire drills were successfully conducted in 395 units.
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