Case: Sneha Marjadi v. State of Maharashtra & Ors.
The Court was hearing a Pro Bono Publico. It was on the matter of the severe shortage the State was facing off the drug Remdesivir that was leading to apprehension and panic among the citizens. The plea had entailed an inquiry with regards to the availability of beds, laboratory test facilities, and procurement of Remdesivir and oxygen in hospitals. The petitioner had also requested an order of monitoring the supply and procurement of Remdesivir and other COVID-related effective drugs.
A plea by Advocate Sneha Marjadi was heard by the Bombay High Court on Friday. The matter was heard by a bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni.
The concerns were raised by the Petitioner from the second wave of the pandemic which has gripped the country and more particularly, nastily affecting the citizens of Maharashtra. There were four issues raised by the Petitioner:
1) shortage of supply of the drug ‘Remdesivir’;
2) shortage of supply of oxygen;
3) Bed management facilities;
4) the Covid-19 testing, namely the “RT-PCR” and “Rapid Antigen” tests.
Arguments Before the Court
Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni and Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh had submitted that the production of the drug had been reduced after December 2020, since the number of cases in the country had also reduced. Thus, a sudden surge in the cases was in every aspect unprecedented. However, the AG said that only 10% of the total number of covid patients in the hospitals would require the drug.
The Advocate General, in his statement, said “There was also a likelihood of such persons purchasing the said drug and stocking the same which has resulted in shortage and easy availability of the drug. Indiscriminate use of this drug at the insistence of the patients by the concerned hospital or doctors has also added as a contributory factor towards the shortage.”
Observations by the Court
The Court while appreciating the cognizance of the Petitioner said that the scarcity of Remdesivir should not have come up at all and gave orders for the hopeful increase in the production capacity of the drug on which many people depend during these times.
The court had said that the reasons for the shortage are many, including the shortfall in the quantity of its manufacturing, illegal hoarding, etc. The Court also said, ” there was total lack of control of the State authorities in its procurement and making the same available.”
On procurement of Remdesivir, the court said: “The patient or his relatives shall not be made to run from pillar to post to find out/locate the drug and the drug should be made available to the patient where he is being treated.”
The bed crisis was solved by the Court by suggesting the creation of an online helpline portal that would remain functional 24 x 7. “A non-response to any inquiry on availability of beds from a needy person, would not be tolerated” the Court said.
The court had also recognized the need to increase the number of RT-PCR and rapid antigen test laboratories. The Court had directed the State to issue notices to make the citizens aware of the conditions in the State through the media.
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