Dhanani’s PIL over drug hoarding ‘Publicity Interest Litigation’: BJP

A Gujarat BJP legislator, accused of illegal stocking and distribution of anti-Covid drug Remdesivir from the party office in Surat by Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani, has termed the Congress leader’s PIL a “Publicity Interest Litigation” and urged the state High Court to dismiss it.

In response to the notice issued by the Gujarat High Court pertaining to Dhanani’s PIL against the state BJP President C.R. Patil, Majura (Surat) legislator Harsh Sanghavi and the state government, Sanghavi and the Drugs Commissioner filed their affidavits in the court on Tuesday.

In his affidavit, Sanghavi alleged that the PIL has been filed to gain publicity, political mileage and not meant for interest of the public and has asked the court not to entertain it. He has also claimed that the PIL was based on unverified and false facts.

Dhanani had, on April 14, filed a PIL against Patil, the Majura MLA, the Gujarat government through Chief Secretary Anil Mukim, the then Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Jayanti Ravi, FDCA Commissioner, Hemant Koshiya, the Surat Collector and the Police Commissioner for illegally acquiring, stocking and distributing Remdesivir injections.

A division bench of Justices Sonia Gokani and Vaibhavi Nanavati had issued notice to all the respondents and had asked them to file a reply within two weeks.

It had also sought Koshiya clarify and present before the court what actions he had taken on the representation made by Dhanani on April 14, when he filed the PIL.

Dhanani, in his PIL, had pointed out that Patil and the local MLA were not registered pharmacists nor did they hold any legal capacity to en masse purchase, store and distribute Remdesivir, but had hoarded the injections and distributed them from the BJP office in Surat, when there was a shortage.

“Even on a condition of providing Covid certificate and doctor’s prescription at BJP office in Surat, the distribution of Remdesivir injections is illegal and violates several provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, the Pharmacy Act, the Drugs Control Act and an application to take action against Patil and others is preferred to the Commissioner of Drugs, Gandhinagar,” said Anand Yagnik, the counsel for Dhanani, in his submission.

Dhanani had sought an expert committee to be constituted of “highly distinguished and neutral persons” to inquire into the incident and place a report before the court in the context of the applicable acts as well as the Disaster Management Act, and the Epidemic Diseases Act.

In response, Sanghavi’s affidavit says that the allegations and violations of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act were “false” as there was no hoarding or possession of the injections but they were just facilitated to those who required it. Sanghavi’s affidavit mostly consists of alleging political intentions behind Dhanani’s PIL.

The FDCA Commissioner’s affidavit also doesn’t mention anything about the violations pointed out in the PIL, but says that there was nothing wrong with the hoarding and distribution of Remdesivir injections from the BJP’s Surat office.