The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday granted three weeks time sought by state BJP chief CR Paatil and the state government regarding the Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani’s public interest litigation (PIL) for “illegal and unauthorised distribution of Remdesivir injection” from the ruling BJP’s Surat office.
The court has scheduled the next hearing on June 15.
Dhanani had, on April 14, filed a PIL against Paatil, Majura (Surat) MLA, the Gujarat government through Chief Secretary Anil Mukim, 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 that Koshiya to 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.
Paatil and the Gujarat government had asked for three weeks time to reply.
Granting the respondents the time, a division bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice R.M. Chaaya, while hearing the PIL on Wednesday, scheduled the next hearing on June 15, as the court will be going for a four-week-long summer vacation from Monday.
Dhanani, in his PIL, had pointed out that even though Paatil and the local MLA ere not registered pharmacists nor did they hold any legal capacity to en masse purchase, store and distribute Remdesivir, they hoarded the injections and distributed them from the BJP office in Surat. These injections were distributed to those in need of the same in the desperate times of Covid-19, particularly when there was a shortage of these injections.
“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 Paatil and others is preferred to the Commissioner of Drugs, Gandhinagar,” said Anand Yagnik, the counsel for Dhanani, in his submission.
“Such illegal action from the Surat BJP office by MP and state BJP Pesident C.R. Paatil as well as MLA Harsh Sanghvi should be looked into by the Drug Commissioner and its status may be provided to the hon’ble court,” he said.
Dhanani has prayed for 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 Pharmacy Act 1984, the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, the Disaster Management Act, 2005, and the Epidemic Diseases Act of 1987, and that action must be taken based on the report.
The Gujarat HC had scheduled the first hearing on Wednesday. The new bench has scheduled the next hearing after the vacation.