The Delhi High Court stated that both the Centre and the Delhi Government had failed in procuring oxygen for the people and hence it was not appropriate to prosecute individuals who tried to help the needy.
Background of the Case
In pursuant to the direction of the Delhi High Court to investigate into the matter of Covid-19 drug hoarding, the Drug Controller had prima facie ascertained that the BJP MP Gautam Gambhir and AAP MLAs Preeti Tomar and Praveen Kumar was guilty of hoarding unauthorized Covid-19 drugs and that they had contravened the provisions of the drugs & Cosmetics Act, 1940. After the Drug Controller had filed its report with the High Court, the Controller initiated proceedings against the accused persons.
Thereafter, on 29th July, 2021, the Delhi High Court questioned the Drug Controller’s decision in prosecuting the AAP MLA Praveen Kumar, who had arranged oxygen for Covid-19 infected people when the Centre and the Delhi Government had failed in procuring the same.
Arguments before the Court
The Counsel appearing on behalf of the Drug Controller contended that the earlier order given by the High Court had given an exception only for procuring oxygen for personal use and not for the use of the general public.
Earlier, during the hearing that took place on 27th July, 2021, the counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioner, Gautam Gambhir Foundation had contended that the petitioner had procured Covid-19 drugs for distributing it to the public free of cost and that the foundation was doing a service. However, the High Court had held that individuals could not be allowed to distribute drugs when the public was suffering due to its scarcity.
Observations of Delhi High Court
The Delhi High Court considered the contentions and stated that it was not appropriate to prosecute someone who had tried to provide oxygen to Covid patients when both the Centre and the Delhi government had failed to provide sufficient medical oxygen to the people of Delhi.
The Delhi High Court stated that the good Samaritans, who provided oxygen during the scarcity, could not be prosecuted.
The High Court said that, “We will not allow this political capital. Then you proceed against all the gurdwaras, temples, churches and social organizations.”
Additionally, the High Court acknowledged the fact that its present decision was an exception to that taken in the case of Gautam Gambhir Foundation and stated that,
“the reason for picking Ghambhir’s case was that he was very irresponsibly holding the Covid-19 medicine. He may have had the best intentions but it is not allowed.”
Decision of the Court
The bench constituted by Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Jasmeet Singh said that good Samaritans who tried to help people by proving oxygen and other necessities should not be prosecuted and added that “the observations we have made in the proceedings should not come in way of parties in criminal court and the case is adjudicated on merits.”