SC refuses to stay proceedings against Gambhir foundation in COVID drugs case

New Delhi : The Supreme Court Monday refused to stay the proceedings against BJP MP Gautam Gambhir”s foundation in a case relating to illegally procuring and distributing COVID-19 medicines.

A bench comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah said people were running around for medicines and drugs, and in this situation suddenly a trust comes and says we will give you medicines.

“This is not done. We do not want to say anything but we also have our ears to the ground,”  the bench observed while refusing to entertain the plea.

The apex court asked the petitioner to approach the Delhi High Court and seek appropriate remedy.

“Kailash Vasdev, learned senior counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioners states that the petitioners are advised to withdraw the Special Leave Petition so as to enable them to move the High Court for impleadment in the pending proceedings.The Special Leave Petition is dismissed as withdrawn,” the plea said

Vasdev, appearing for the foundation, sought a stay on the prosecution under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.

On sensing disinclination of the bench, the counsel for the Gambhir”s foundation withdrew the petition.

Delhi”s drugs control department had on July 17 told the Delhi High Court that it has launched prosecution against Gautam Gambhir Foundation and AAP MLAs, Imran Hussain and Praveen Kumar, before a court for allegedly illegally stocking and distributing Covid drugs during the infection”s second wave.

Based on inquires made by the investigating team, a prosecution in the court of law was launched against Gautam Gambhir Foundation, its trustees and CEO on July 8 for “contravening the provisions of section 18(c) read with section 27(b)(ii) of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940”, the Delhi Drugs Control Department (DDCD) said in a response which was in the form of a status report.

Cricketer-turned-politician and BJP leader Gautam Gambhir is one of the trustees.

Section 18(c) prohibits manufacture, sale distribution of drugs without a licence and Section 27(b)(ii) makes sale, distribution without valid licence punishable with imprisonment for a term, not be less than three years but which may extend to five years and with fine.

The prosecution against Kumar is for similar offences under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, according to the response submitted by the DDCD.

The prosecution has been filed before the court of Metropolitan Magistrate Pritu Raj, Rohini Courts, against Gautam Gambhir Foundation and Kumar, it had said.

After giving an opportunity to submit their explanation, the sales licenses of dealers and retailers who sold favipiravir tablets, a COVID-19 drug, and medical oxygen to Gautam Gambhir Foundation for running a medical camp have also been suspended for 10 days for contravening the provisions of the law, it had submitted.

Hussain, who allegedly stocked and distributed medical oxygen without holding requisite licence under the law, is also facing prosecution for similar offences.

The status report was filed in a PIL seeking lodging of an FIR on the allegations that politicians are able to procure and distribute in huge quantities COVID-19 medicines even as patients were running from pillar to post to get them.

On June 3, Delhi”s drug controller had told the high court that Gambhir Foundation was found guilty of unauthorised stocking, procuring and distributing fabiflu medicine to COVID-19 patients.

The high court had deprecated the manner in which a huge quantity of the drug was procured and said genuine patients who needed the medicine at that particular time could not get it as the bulk stock was taken away by Gambhir.

The drug controller also submitted that action will be taken without delay against the foundation, drug dealers as also in other such cases which would be brought to its notice.

AAP MLA Kumar has also been found guilty for similar offences under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and action will also be taken against him, the court was informed.

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