New Delhi: The Delhi high court on May 31 minced no words while coming down heavily on the drug controller for not properly examining how BJP MP Gautam Gambhir procured a huge quantity of Fabiflu, used for treating COVID-19 patients.
A week ago, the Delhi high court had directed the drug controller to inquire into the issue of politicians buying COVID-19 drugs in bulk amid shortages.
Calling the drug controller’s investigation”trash,” the high court rejected the status report filed in connection with its inquiry into Gambhir’s procurement of the medicine.
“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,” Indian Express quoted the bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh as having said.
On April 21, the MP tweeted that people of East Delhi, his Lok Sabha constituency could get Fabiflu from his office for free.
People of East Delhi can get ‘Fabiflu’ from MP office (2, Jagriti Enclave) for FREE between 10-5. Kindly get Aadhar & prescription
पूर्वी दिल्ली के लोग “Fabiflu” मेरे कार्यालय (2, जाग्रति एन्क्लेव) से 10 से 5 के बीच मुफ़्त में ले सकते हैं. अपना आधार और डॉक्टर की पर्ची ले आएं
— Gautam Gambhir (@GautamGambhir) April 21, 2021
At the time, India and particularly Delhi, was in the thick of a significant rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths in a second wave of infections. This had meant a shortage of medicines, medical supplies and hospital beds.
The high court said everyone knows that the drug was in short supply and while Gambhir bought thousands of strips of the medicine, other people who needed it could not get it on that day.
“You (drug controller) are wrong to say it was not in short supply. You want us to shut our eyes. You think you would get away with this,” the court said.
The Controller had said in the report that Gambhir’s acquisition of the drug through the Foundation was covered by an exception in the Drugs and Cosmetics Act. The Controller cited that the drugs were given at an event treated as a medical camp supervised by a Gargi Hospital doctor. “Section 5 of Schedule K of the Act, which was cited by the Drug Controller, allows a medical practitioner to stock and dispense medicines to his patients from his premises without obtaining a drug license,” Express notes in its report.
However, the court came down severely on the fact that such a large number of Fabiflu strips were given to a single foundation.
“Even medical practitioner…could a medical practitioner have gone to a dealer and said ‘give me 4000 strips of this medicine’?” the court asked.
The court also questioned how such an event could be considered a medical camp when the hospital itself did not acquire the medicines.
“You can’t take us for a ride. If you think we are so gullible, so naive, we are not. You better do your job,” the bench said.
The bench also pulled up Gambhir for making a statement that he would continue to do such work.
“We have already said it is a malpractice. This tendency of people trying to take advantage, and then trying to appear as a saviour when they themselves created the problem, and going on to state they would do it again, has to be denounced. If it continues, we know how to deal with it,” the bench said.
Thousands could have gone to medicine shops and got the drugs had they not been collected in this manner, the court held.
(With inputs from PTI)
Note: This article, first published at 2.24 pm on May 31 was republished at 5.30 pm on the same day with additional details of the court’s observations.