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'Can't Prosecute Good Samaritans For Providing Oxygen When State, Centre Failed': Delhi High Court

Nupur Thapliyal
29 July 2021 9:22 AM GMT
Cant Prosecute Good Samaritans For Providing Oxygen When State, Centre Failed: Delhi High Court
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The Delhi High Court on Thursday pulled up the Drug Controller of the Delhi Government for initiating prosecution against AAP MLA Praveen Kumar for procuring medical oxygen after observing that such an action cannot be initiated in a situation where both Centre and the Delhi Government failed to provide sufficient oxygen to people. Calling it an action of targetting a particular political...

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The Delhi High Court on Thursday pulled up the Drug Controller of the Delhi Government for initiating prosecution against AAP MLA Praveen Kumar for procuring medical oxygen after observing that such an action cannot be initiated in a situation where both Centre and the Delhi Government failed to provide sufficient oxygen to people.

Calling it an action of targetting a particular political party, the Court also said that the Drug Controller, while following the same reasoning, should also prosecute Gurudwaras, temples and other organizations as well who had procured medical oxygen during the second covid wave.

"How can you prosecute him? The State, both GNCTD and Union, failed in providing sufficient oxygen to people in Delhi. There were some Samaritans who provided oxygen. You can't prosecute them." A division bench comprising of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Jasmeet Singh said.

The Court also observed that in view of the order dated June 3, the Court had observed that issue of medical oxygen being technical, is different from the issue of hoarding of covid 19 drugs.

"But we observed that it's a technical type of an offence for involving oxygen. This way you'll pick up half of Delhi. Why to proceed against specific political parties then? Proceed against gurudwaras too then. We said we will not permit this." The Court said.

"Proceed against every gurudwara, every temple or social organisation then." the Court said.

Asking the Drug Controller to clear its stand on whether it wishes to initiate prosecution against all the people who had procured medical oxygen, the Court said thus:

"Then you first initiate action against all Gurudwara, mandirs etc. You're very consciously targeting political parties. It's very unfortunate. We'll not permit this."

"It's unfortunate that this human tragedy has been used for political capital." The bench said.

Advocate Nandita Rao appearing on behalf of Drug Controller said that as per the earlier order of the Court, the exemption was given for personal use. Not agreeing with the aforesaid submission, the Court directed Rao to seek instructions for clearing it stand in relation to the aspect of initiation of prosecution against persons who were allegedly involved in distribution of free medical oxygen to the needy covid 19 patients.

Distinguishing this case from the allegations made against Gautam Gambhir Foundation, the Court said:

"You should not go against a person. He was only trying to help the society. The reason for picking up Mr. Gautam Gambhir's case was that he was very irresponsibly having covid medicines. He may have had the best intentions but it is not allowed."

Senior Advocate Kailash Vasdev appearing for Gautam Gambhir Foundation however requested the Court to not make any adverse observations which might be used against him in the court of law wherein prosecution has been launched against it.

In view of this, the Court clarified thus:

"We make it clear 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."

The development came after Drugs Control Department has informed the Court that it has launched a prosecution in the Court of law against Gautam Gambhir Foundation, its trustees and CEO as well as AAP MLAs Praveen Kumar and Imran Hussain on July 8 for contravening the provisions of Drugs & Cosmetics Act , 1940.

Recently, the Supreme Court had refused to entertain a petition filed by Gautam Gambhir Foundation against the order passed by the Delhi High Court for enquiry into alleged hoarding of COVID-19 drugs by the trust headed by Gautam Gambhir.

During the previous course of hearing, the Drug Controller informed the Court that Gautam Gambhir Foundation has been found in contravention of the provisions of Drugs and Cosmetics Act for unauthorised stock of covid 19 drugs.

The Court was also informed that show cause notices have also been sent to such firms for violating conditions of Drugs and Cosmetics Act and that such firms are also liable for Prosecution for selling medicines to an unlicensed firm i.e. Gautam Gambhir Foundation.

Earlier, the Court had pulled up the Drug Controller of the Delhi Government for its "unsatisfactory inquiry/Investigation" in the matter.

"You want us to shut our eyes. You can't take is for a ride. If you think we are so gullible, we are naive, we'll give you back hard. You better do your job." The Court said.

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