In complaint submitted before Rohini court, department alleges “unauthorised purchase/procurement, stocking and distribution” of Favipiravir and medical oxygen during the second wave.
DELHI’s DRUG Control department has filed three separate complaints against former cricketer and BJP MP Gautam Gambhir’s foundation and Aam Aadmi Party MLAs Praveen Kumar and Imran Hussain before a Rohini court for “unauthorised purchase/procurement, stocking and distribution” of Favipiravir, a drug used to treat Covid-19, and medical oxygen during the second wave.
The complaint against Gautam Gambhir Foundation, its trustees and CEO was filed on July 8 for allegedly contravening Section 18 (c) read with Section 27 (b) (ii) of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940. The complaints have been moved before the designated court of Metropolitan Magistrate Prithu Raj. Similar complaints have been filed against Hussain and Kumar with regard to the distribution of medical oxygen.
The drugs control department has in an order also suspended the license of dealers who sold the drugs to the Foundation, for a period of ten days between July 14 and July 23, for allegedly contravening the law and rules.
Section 18(c), under which complaints have been filed against the three, prohibits manufacture and sale of any drug in absence of a license. The violation of the provision can attract an imprisonment of minimum three years.
Inquiries into the complaints alleging violation of law were held by the department in pursuance of orders passed by the Delhi High Court in a petition filed by Dr Deepak Singh, alleging that a “medical mafia-politicians nexus” was in existence and they were indulging in illegal distribution of medicines during the second wave.
Assistant Drug Controller K R Chawla, while refusing to divulge information related to the case, told The Indian Express, “This is a very sensitive matter.”
The drug control department had on June 3 told the court that certain offences have been found to be committed by the Gautam Gambhir Foundation and MLAs and action would be taken against them.
The division bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh had observed, “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.”
The court also had said that Gambhir may have acted with 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,” it said.
The department had told the division bench that 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 had in May 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.
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.
Garg Hospital, however, later clarified to the department that their role was limited to providing supervision with respect to the 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.
The department had also told the court that MLA 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 done refilling of cylinders in Punjab’s Bathinda.
A similar complaint had also been filed against Hussain for arbitrary distribution of medical oxygen. Though the High Court on May 13 had dismissed the plea against him, the court was later told that medical oxygen being a drug under the law cannot be purchased by any persons for the purpose of stocking or sale or distribution without the requisite license.
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