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SC Refuses to Entertain Gautam Gambhir’s Plea in COVID Drug Hoarding Case; Says ‘Even With Best Intentions, They Are Malpractices’

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The Hon’ble Supreme Court refused to entertain the plea and stated that individuals cannot hoard and distribute drugs when the public is suffering from its shortage.

Facts of the Case

On 24th May, 2021, the Delhi High Court passed an order directing the law department of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi to ensure that expertise is provided to the Office of Drug & Controller to enable the Drug Controller to carry out necessary investigating with regard to the hoarding of Covid-19 medicines and drugs and unauthorized distribution that was alleged to be committed by trust headed by BJP MP Gautam Gambhir and AAP MLAs Preeti Tomar and Praveen Kumar. The Drug Controller was directed to file its report within one week and the matter was listed for hearing on 31st May, 2021. Thereafter, the Drug Controller had prima facie ascertained that the accused had been found guilty of hoarding unauthorized Covid-19 drugs and had contravened the provisions of the Drugs & Cosmetics Act, 1940.

Thereafter, the BJP MP Gautam Gambhir filed a petition before the Hon’ble Supreme Court against the order of the Delhi High Court that had directed the Drug Controller to undertake an investigation in the matter pertaining to hoarding of Covid-19 drugs.

Arguments before the Court

The Senior Advocate Kailash Vasudev appearing for Gautam Gambhir Foundation contended that the petitioner had collaborated with drug suppliers, doctors and healthcare workers to distribute free medicines to patients during the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the Counsel, the petitioner had not ulterior motive and that it was only a public service. It was stated that “People who have rendered service to people during the difficult period of pandemic are being punished.”

Observations of the Court

The Supreme Court referred to the scarcity of Remdesivir infection during the second wave of the pandemic and stated that

During the second wave of pandemic common men were running helter-skelter for essential medicine and oxygen and purchasing medicines at a high cost.

The Court observed that “The way he has gone about it, he has done a disservice. Even with the best of intentions, they are malpractices.”

Decision of the Court

The Hon’ble Supreme Court refused to entertain the plea that was filed by the petitioner and held that allowing individuals to hoard supplies when there is an apparent scarcity would go against the public interest.

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